Daton Fix Q&A: Wrestling for John Smith, looking ahead to Bout at the Ballpark, being a student of the sport
by Joe Wedra, USA Wrestling
Photo of Daton Fix by Tony Rotundo
This year, themat.com will interview one collegiate wrestling athlete each Thursday as a part of a new Q&A series for the 2021-22 college wrestling season. Stay tuned each Thursday for a new feature, spotlighting these student-athletes both on and off the mat.
This week, we chat with Oklahoma State’s Daton Fix, the standout 133-pounder for the Cowboys who won a silver medal for the U.S. at the 2021 Senior World Championships.
Below, Fix talks about the upcoming Bout at the Ballpark event, which features a dual meet against Iowa, wrestling for coach John Smith and the difference between wrestling freestyle and folkstyle. He also discusses which style he prefers and why.
Q: Starting with wrestling for John Smith... Obviously he is a legend both as an athlete and coach. For you personally, what is your relationship like with Coach Smith and what has he meant to your career?
A: He’s the best to ever do it. Not everybody gets the opportunity to learn from somebody like that every day. So, if I ever have any questions or anything, I know that I can go to him and he’s going to have an answer. And more than likely, it’s going to be the right answer. He knows what it takes to get to where I want to be, and I’m just grateful that he’s my coach and I get to represent Oklahoma State with him by my side. He has done things I want to do. Having him with me and being by my side through the whole journey is a huge positive for me.
Q: The team had two close losses over the weekend, but the message has still been “everything we want is still right in front of us”. What is the message from the leadership in the room to bounce back leading into the final month and a half of the season?
A: It’s part of wrestling. You never want to lose. You don’t want to lose duals. You don’t want to lose matches. But, sometimes, stuff happens and things just don’t go your way. The best people in the world, the best wrestlers in the world, it’s how they respond to that adversity. It separates them from being the best at what they do to just being average. I think how we respond over the next couple of weeks will really tell us who we are. I think we can make a lot of jumps if we use this weekend as motivation and focus on what we need to do to get better.
Q: When you look at 133 pounds across the country, how much do you watch those other guys and keep up with the rest of the competition at this point in the year?
A: Really, I’m always more focused on myself than my competitors. My dad always told me growing up that to truly become number one, you must constantly strive to surpass yourself, not the competition. And that’s something that’s always stuck with me. Obviously, I’ll watch big matches and it doesn’t matter the weight or what’s going on… but, I’m going to watch wrestling because I enjoy to watch and I’m a student of the sport.
But really, when I wake up every day and go to the room, I’m definitely more worried about what I need to do to be the greatest version of me I need to be before I can worry about what everyone else is doing.
Q: Everyone is excited and talking about Bout at the Ballpark. What was your first reaction when you were told that having a folkstyle/freestyle event in the same day was a possibility?
A: Yeah, there wasn’t really ever much thought in not wrestling both styles for me. I’m the only athlete with the opportunity to do both, so why wouldn’t I want to represent my University and my country, all in the same day? It’s such a great opportunity and I love competing. The more I compete, the better it is for me.
Q: It’s a very unique opportunity to be able to wrestle both folkstyle and freestyle in the same day. How much thought have you put into switching styles in back-to-back matches?
A: I haven’t been training really any freestyle, but I always look at it as the transition from folkstyle to freestyle is a lot easier than going from freestyle to folkstyle. It’s really just because of the mat wrestling and having to hold someone down, and having to get off bottom. That’s a lot harder to do than to go get a takedown, use a bit of energy for about 10-15 seconds to try to turn the guy and then get back to your feet. So, I think the transition is just going to be easier for me, going folkstyle to freestyle.
Q: Do you enjoy a certain style more than another, or are there more so just differences between each?
A: I’ve always said that I enjoy freestyle more, mainly because the ultimate goal for me is to win World titles and a World gold medal. So, that’s always kind of been the style that I have gravitated to. But, there are parts of folkstyle that I also enjoy. It’s not easy to hold someone down and to get off bottom. That stuff is hard to do. You take pride in being able to hold someone else down and to be able to get out. So, there are parts of both that I really enjoy, but overall, I’d say that freestyle is definitely the one I enjoy the most.
Q: When you take a step back and look at Bout at the Ballpark, coming up next week, what is it going to be like to be able to wrestle in an event like this that will be a display of great freestyle and folkstyle talent for our country?
A: It’s a great opportunity for the sport of wrestling. It’s on one of the biggest stages. And for me personally, I want to represent the sport of wrestling to the best of my abilities. I want to go out there and put on a show. Luckily for me, I have two opportunities to do that. And that’s going to be my goal going into both matches – to go out there and compete and put on a show, put points on the board. I want to make it an enjoyable event to watch.