Who’s number one? The two have tried to settle that question more than once, and for many fans the third match between No. 6 Daton Fix (19-0, 24-0) and No. 2 Nick Suriano (14-1, 55-5) was a bit of a letdown.
No. 3 Oklahoma State University (7-0) made a weekend trip to the East Coast for a pair of program-first duals against No. 25 Princeton (4-4) and No. 24 Rutgers (7-3).
On Saturday Fix rolled to his eleventh technical fall of the season, 22-7 against Jonathan Gomez (5-8, 17-19) in 6:38. The Pokes won that dual 27-12 with six wins and four losses.
On Sunday OSU won even more handily, 26-5, with only two losses.
Both Fix and Suriano entered Sunday’s dual with undefeated records for the season, and a lot of history. Both were undefeated four-time State Champions in high school, and the two hold the record for longest match ever at 32:12. They met once in the 2014 Cadet National finals, where Fix prevailed in an ultimate tie-breaker. And at the 2014 Who’s Number One event Suriano scored a takedown more than 26 minutes into overtime.
Fix, a redshirt freshman, has earned four tournament titles in his two seasons at OSU and has been steadily working his way up the rankings this year. Suriano, a junior, is a two-time NCAA qualifier. He suffered a first-round injury as a freshman and medical forfeited the remainder of the tournament. He was a national runner-up as a sophomore and holds four tournament titles in his three seasons.
Needless to say, there was a lot of hype in the weeks preceding their meeting.
The third meeting between the elite athletes went the way of the previous matches. An escape point apiece and a trip to overtime. In the first tie-breaker round Rutgers challenged for a locked hands call on Fix, but the refs sided with the Cowboy. Suriano did, however, record an escape.
In the second tie-breaker Suriano was called for locked hands and Fix escaped for a 3-2 lead. Rutgers challenged that call also, and both were overturned after a long video review process. Fix escaped again and sent the two into another sudden victory period tied at 2-2.
Finally, Fix was awarded the victory after Suriano was called for hands to the face. An anticlimactic finish for those who have been waiting all year for the heavily-anticipated meeting.
With no more tournaments on the schedule till the post-season, Fix and Suriano will have to wait till late March for the NCAA Tournament before they get the chance to meet again.
The Cowboys will return to Big 12 action Friday, January 18th when they take on West Virginia (2-9). OSU is 4-0 in conference duals while the Mountaineers are 2-2 riding a three-dual losing streak. Fix could get a ranked match against No. 18 Matt Schmidt (11-0, 40-15).
There are numerous other quality opponents on the horizon for Fix. With eight duals left he could meet No. 4 Micky Phillippi (12-1, 54-12), No. 9 Austin Gomez (12-1, 20-1), No. 10 Austin DeSanto (11-1, 39-8), No. 11 John Erneste (11-3, 96-26), and No. 17 Brandon Paetzell (6-7, 37-21).
1.18 @ West Virginia
1.19 @ No. 18 Pittsburgh
1.27 vs. No. 21 Iowa State
2.1 vs. No. 14 Northern Iowa
2.3 vs No. 28 Lehigh
2.8 vs. Air Force
2.16 @ No. 5 Missouri
2.24 vs. No. 4 Iowa
3.9 Big 12 Championship
3.21 NCAA Championship