Fields makes his last match memorable

Feb. 18, 2008

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Matt Fields will never wrestle in front of the boisterous University of Iowa faithful inside Carver-Hawkeye Arena again. He wanted to make his last impression a memorable one.

Fields headed toward center mat on Sunday, Feb. 17, with top-rated Iowa trailing No. 10 Michigan 16-15. The unfortunate Wolverine counterpart was freshman Chad Belski, who would soon be relegated to tackling-dummy status.

It was a dominating and physical performance by the two-time Iowa state champion from North Cedar High School. When the final horn sounded, Fields posted a 20-5 technical fall and the Hawkeyes emerged with a 20-16 dual victory — their 20th of the season. The win was Iowa’s seventh without a loss in Big Ten competition, assuring the Hawkeyes at least a share of the conference regular-season title. It was the school’s first 20-win season since going 25-0-1 in 1990-91.

“This is my first time (winning the conference),” said Fields, moments after his dual-clinching victory. “We finally won it my senior year and it feels great.”

Things have not always felt great for Fields. The heralded recruit coming out of high school said he is disappointed with his career — so far. Fields has won 85 career matches (against 35 defeats), but his best finish in the Big Ten Conference was fourth as a junior. He was fifth as a freshman and was injured during his sophomore season. He qualified for the NCAA Championships in both 2005 and ’07, but has never been an All-American.

“I haven’t had the kind of career I wanted through all four years,” Fields said. “This match (against Bleski) was the least I could do for the fans so they remember me on a positive note.”

Fields is currently 26-6 overall, 22-5 against collegiate competition, and rated No. 7 in the nation at 285. He has won four consecutive matches. And even though he has competed in front of the home crowd for the final time, there is still a lot of wrestling left for Fields. Iowa travels to Illinois on Sunday, Feb. 24, the Big Ten Championship is March 8-9 at Minneapolis, and the NCAA Championship is March 20-22 in St. Louis.

“This was a perfect ending (in Carver-Hawkeye Arena), but the real perfect ending is going to be at nationals,” Fields said. “So far, so good.”

UI head coach Tom Brands agrees that the signature matches from Fields are yet to come.

“He’s a great kid no matter how you look at it,” Brands said. “But his legacy will be determined by the postseason. We expect him to be ready mentally to compete at the highest level. It’s a matter of putting yourself in position to capitalize.”

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