SERGEANT BLUFF – Austin Rozeboom is taking a difficult situation and trying to make a positive out of it.
The Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley senior missed about a month of his final wrestling season because of a poor decision he made, but now he is determined to learn from it and finish as strong as he can.
“It is good to be back and I think I am more focused now than I was before,” said Rozeboom after winning the 145-pound section title in Sergeant Bluff on Saturday. “I think I was getting kind of a big head and thinking that I had been to state three times I can make it back there easy again.
“Missing those tournaments made me look at it in a different way and made me want it more. I just couldn’t see myself sitting on the sidelines cheering on my teammates and me not wrestling. I didn’t like it at all the first meet and then just kept pushing myself and my teammates harder in practice. I just kept reminding them not to do dumb things because you will regret it. No one likes to sit on the sidelines and watch the rest of your teammates wrestle.”
Nighthawks head coach Stan DeZeeuw said he wants all his athletes to make good decisions on and off the mat, but he also realizes it is important what is learned after a mistake is made.
“It is one of those life things and why it is not a life sentence because we all mess up,” DeZeeuw said. “I have messed up and that is how we all learn. He did make a poor choice and had to pay for it and I think he realized this is my last year, this was taken away from me, and I have to take this a little more seriously. In that aspect I think yes, we are probably better for it.”
Rozeboom is still working his way back into shape on the mat after missing time, but he was impressive at the sectional pinning his way to the title. He downed Sioux Center’s Ernesto Cardenas in the championship match in 2:43 to improve to 20-2 on the season.
“I am feeling pretty good now. Right when I came back I wasn’t very well conditioned,” said Rozeboom after running sprints following his championship win. “I do a lot of running after practice and just get it so I can wrestle six minutes hard.”
Rozeboom showed his promise by placing seventh at the state tournament as a freshman and followed that up with a fourth-place effort as a sophomore.
Rozeboom finished seventh at 138 a year ago, but DeZeeuw said that is doesn’t do justice to the season he had.
“Everyone thought he had a down year last year, but you know what, he had a really good year,” DeZeeuw said. “We were up (at state) in a match and at the end of the second period the kid got a throw and changed the complexion. That is life, that is anything. All the sudden it is 5-4 and he is shooting and gets caught. That is something that just happens.”
It has all motived Rozeboom to finish his final season strong at Wells Fargo Arena.
“This time of year you just look forward to it because it is a great environment and I think some kids get spooked by it, but I think it is pretty cool to wrestle in and you just have to take it all in.”
Rozeboom, one of BHRV's two district qualifiers, wants a state title to go with a football championship the Nighthawks won his junior year before reaching the semifinals this season.
He believes his experience will pay off for him in the biggest matches after three previous trips to state.
“The mat awareness I have knowing that you are good position,” he said. “You have to wrestle the last minutes of your match. You can’t get up and just try to stall it out or contain yourself the rest of the match. You have to keep scoring points.”
“Obviously, he wants to end the year with a win, but I know he wants to leave everything on the mat and not look back and regret it later,” DeZeeuw said.