BRUNSWICK — The wrestler-coach relationship has always been a huge part of Matt Fields’ success.
An accomplished athlete for Brunswick and Walsh Jesuit, the Blue Devils senior holds that bond above all else.
It’s made him a state champion, runner-up and alternate in his career, so the 132-pounder was searching for someone he knew would help him on and off the mat.
The list was narrowed to Oklahoma and North Carolina State and Fields chose the Wolfpack.
“I think the coach-wrestler relationship is a huge factor into being a good wrestler,” Fields said.
“If you’re best friends with someone and they’re coaching you, you almost want to win for them as much as they want to win for you. It becomes more than yourself.”
Sixth-year NC State coach Pat Popolozio’s philosophy has equated to success. The Wolfpack has finished in the top 20 at the NCAA Championships with seven All-Americans the last four seasons.
In five seasons at NC State, Popolozio has mentored 31 national qualifiers, including all 10 weight classes last winter.
With a 13-2 record last season, the Wolfpack finished eighth in the national coaches poll after a No. 2 showing the season before.
“I went down to NC State for the first time, and I just love it,” Fields said. “I love Pat Popolizio. I like all the coaches there. I just like what they stand for and think they’re building something good and North Carolina is just a great state.”
Going 56-12 at Walsh Jesuit against the cream of the crop in the nation the last two seasons, Fields enters his senior season 84-17.
He plans on wrestling at 141 or 149 for NC State and isn’t afraid of a redshirt.
“I’m willing to do whatever the team needs,” Fields said. “I think a redshirt would help me mature a little bit and get used to college wrestling. College wrestling is another level, especially at Division I.
“Ultimately, I want to be the best version of myself. That excites me. I get to go out every time and represent my school against the best in the country. It doesn’t get better than that. You can’t be scared of the challenge. You have to rise up to it.”
Fields carried a 3.925 grade-point average the first grading period at Brunswick and plans on majoring in business entrepreneurship with an eye on law school afterwards.
Contact Brad Bournival at email@example.com.