Fields pins down success

January 16, 1994|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

John Fields may be the nicest guy you never want to meet on a wrestling mat.

The Overlea senior is 14-0, with seven pins at 152 pounds, where he is ranked No. 4 by the Maryland State Wrestling Association.

Standing just 5 feet 8 1/2 , and with sinewy arms that bench-press 270 pounds, Fields has beaten several quality opponents.

Perry Hall's Austin Kim (10-3, five pins) was undefeated before becoming Fields' technical-fall victim in the John Carroll Tournament semifinals. Fields then edged Aberdeen's fifth-ranked Kit Doran, 6-2, for the tournament crown.

Regional champ Brian Yoakum (11-2), who placed third in last year's 3A-4A state tournament for Perry Hall, was pinned by Fields.

But Fields had his toughest challenge this year against Woodlawn's sixth-ranked Mykol Thomas, coming from behind to win the Pikesville Tournament title, 8-6, on a last-second takedown.

"I should have won. But he's my toughest challenge. And I think he's my only challenge," said Thomas, a county runner-up last year. "We're wrestling on about the same level, so we should both improve and be an even better match next time."

A defending regional champion who placed third in both the Baltimore County and 1A-2A state tournaments, Fields went 30-4 with 12 pins last year. He has plenty to brag about, but you'll rarely hear bravado from Fields.

His fierce intensity is confined to the mats.

"In my three years of wrestling, Mykol's the first guy I got along with off the mat. But I respect Doran also," said Fields. "Yoakum's my rival, but he's cool."

Fields said he learned from his parents -- both former officers at correctional facilities -- to prepare himself mentally and physically for life's challenges. He frequently runs on his own, and last spring threw the shot put in track.

This spring, however, he will concentrate on lifting weights to increase his strength.

"John has a vision, and he's willing to work, work, work until he gets there," said Overlea coach Bruce Malinowski, a state champion for Kenwood in 1979. "He's quick, strong and has all the tools to compete on the college level. I'm hoping someone will take a good look at him."

Fields' father is no longer alive, but, like Fields' mother, Karen Baker, he would be proud of his son's success both as a wrestler and an honor-roll student.

"Coach Malinowski's been like a father to me. I even call him 'Pops' sometimes," said Fields, who plans a college major in pre-med. "He's the reason I want to stick with wrestling, and I can't give him enough praise."

Unlike many wrestlers of his ability, Fields did not start at an early age.

"I was at Old Mill as a freshman, when I started thinking about wrestling. But over there, I never did," said Fields, a 3.0 student who transferred to Overlea before his sophomore season.

"When I got to Overlea, I met coach Pete Chakmakis [now at Dulaney]," said Fields. "He let me work with the varsity, but I went 10-1 on JV and won the county tournament. I did a lot better than I thought I would."

Fields has long-term goals of being a podiatrist, and oddly enough, is at his wrestling best on his feet.

"He can take you down, let you up and go after you again -- that's where he beat Yoakum, Thomas and Doran," Malinowski said. "I haven't seen anyone yet who can go with him on their feet."

Those same strong legs that helped Fields as a defensive end on the Falcons' 11-1 football team give him plenty of drive on a takedown.

"When you find a place that you're comfortable working from, you should stick with it," Fields said. "And working from my feet, I know that anything I want to do, I can get it done."

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