FARGO, N.D. — The fact that 35 of the 42 Ohio champions in high school wrestling also were USA Ohio members didn’t get lost on Brunswick’s Derek Fields or Highland’s Bradley Staron and Jack O’Donnell.
Add the fact that 60 of the 84 finalists wrestled freestyle or Greco-Roman and it hit home even harder.
Fields, Staron and O’Donnell will take to the FargoDome in hopes of becoming an All-American at the U.S. Marine Corps Junior and Cadet Nationals.
Fields (132 pounds) and O’Donnell (195) will compete in Cadet freestyle Saturday through Monday, while Staron (145) will join the Junior Greco circuit Thursday and Friday.
All come in knowing Kyle Snyder and Logan Stieber got their start on the same mats.
“All the training and everything that led up to it, I feel really confident,” Staron said. “I feel like I get a lot more wins in wrestling season than last year.”
That’s exactly the logic for the three as they prepare for the hardest competition of their lives.
For Staron, it’s a return to the FargoDome, while Fields and O’Donnell will make their first trips.
“I’m hoping to kick some butt at Fargo,” Staron said. “It’s my senior season, so I’ll have to give it all I have. This is just going to be a good start to it.”
Fields knows what Fargo is all about after his brother, Matt, competed a few years back.
Matt Fields will wrestle for North Carolina State this winter. Derek Fields will be lacing up the shoes as a sophomore at Brunswick.
“Every match is going to be hard, so I can’t take any of them lightly,” Derek Fields said. “It’ll make me better in several ways. I’m hoping to do some damage down here and place. It’ll get me ready because it’s just like state. You’re always going to have a hard match.”
O’Donnell is looking to improve upon his district qualification from a season ago but also knows what to expect in Fargo, as he’s been in contact with former Hornets coach Alan Fried in preparation.
“I’m looking to come down here and place at least,” the incoming sophomore said. “I haven’t made it to state yet, so I just want to come down here and place. I’m really looking forward to it. I think next year, I’ll be so much better after coming down here.”
Staron returns after missing out on All-America status last year but is ready to make up for lost time after elbow and ankle injuries all but wiped out his junior season.
“Always make the first contact, always be the first back to the center of the mat after a push out,” Staron said. “That’s important. You have to always be aggressive on your feet and be ready for anything. You can’t let your guard down because that gives your opponent the advantage.”