FARGO, N.D. — The Fields family has always found success by building a base.
You start with a strong foundation, add layers upon layers of experience, and the results will come.
Derek Fields added a big piece not only to his future, but to his wrestling footprint on Monday when the Brunswick sophomore finished fifth at the U.S. Marine Corps Cadet Freestyle Nationals.
Known as the toughest and best tournament in the nation for years, the next Olympic and World Champions are created in Fargo, N.D., so finishing as an All-American means just a little bit more.
“This is the biggest base I’ll ever see,” Fields said. “It’s the hardest tournament to go to. People all over the country are trying to get that stop sign (the octogen-shaped trophy handed to the winner).”
To understand just how tough Fields’ bracket was, the 132-pounder had to navigate his way through a 128-man bracket over three days to finish among the best in the nation.
Wins over New Jersey’s Andrew Troczynski and Iowa State placer Jack Thomsen preceded victories over South Dakota state champion Isaac Klinkhammer and United World Wrestling Greco All-American Preston Decker of Texas in the quarterfinals to ensure All-American honors.
The honor itself trumped his state qualification in Columbus for the Blue Devils and his runner-up finish at the Northeast Regional earlier this season.
He fell in the semifinals to eventual runner-up and three-time All-American Ryan Franco of California and lost the consolation semifinals to Illinois two-time All-American Luke Odom.
Not wanting to end the tournament on a loss, Fields bounced back with a 14-3 victory over Georgia’s Jaxon Smith.
Fields pushed the action from the start, built a big lead after the first period and ended things with 45 seconds remaining.
“It was the end of the tournament, my last match and I was sore,” Fields said. “I was out of breath, but you have to work through when you’re tired and work your hardest until you have no more gas left in the tank. It’s super hard because you’re gassing and your legs are sore, your whole body is sore, but you have to give it everything you have.”
Fields will have a few months to recover until he starts things back up in earnest in the fall to try and equal the three state placings and state title his brother, Matt Fields, won before graduating from Brunswick in 2018.
While he doesn’t measure himself against his brother, Derek Fields knows that coming back to the Buckeye state with the moniker of a Fargo All-American puts an instant bull’s-eye on his back.
Fields will embrace that, but he’s looking forward more to keeping the Brunswick program humming.
“I’ll use it to make myself better, my teammates and the program better,” Fields said. “My brother was my leader. He told me everything to do. I tried to follow him. Now, I want to find someone and make them better. I want him to become my bro, just like me and my brother were.”