DES MOINES-Austin Rozeboom, the 138-pound grappler for the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley Nighthawks, knows how things can go at the state wrestling championships. The junior stood on the podium in seventh place in the 120-pound weight class in 2015 as a freshman and finished in fourth place at 132 pounds last year as a sophomore. This time Rozeboom took fourth-place at the 138-pound weight class.
Rozeboom took a 33-1 record as the No. 2-ranked wrestler in Class 2A to the state wrestling championships Feb. 16-18. In the first round Thursday afternoon, Rozeboom faced Trevor Marlin of Creston/Orient-Macksburg who came into the state tournament with a 40-12 season record. Rozeboom was the first to score in the match with an early takedown in the first period. After Marlin escaped, the Nighthawk grappler took him down again and then stayed in control of the match, winning a 7-2 decision to advance to Friday afternoon’s quarterfinal match.
In the quarterfinal match, Rozeboom faced ninth-ranked Ben Carr of Solon and got to Carr’s legs for a takedown in the first period. Rozeboom deferred the choice to start the second period and Carr elected the neutral start. Again it was Rozeboom who scored a takedown but Carr was awarded a locked hands penalty point and found an angle for a 2-point reversal to Rozeboom’s back. There Carr collected 3 near-fall points to go up 6-4. Rozeboom started the third period on the bottom and was able to find his feet for an escape, but this time it was Carr who scored the takedown. Rozeboom managed to get his hips high and up and over Carr for a reversal but Carr didn’t stop moving, handing the Nighthawk an 11-7 loss by decision and sending Rozeboom to the consolation side of the bracket.
“Austin got out of position and got caught at the end of the second period in a throw that really changed the match,” said Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley coach Stan DeZeeuw. “He gave up 5 points right there and was down 2 instead of up 3 or 4. So you do a few things different in the third period and he got caught again.”
On the consolation side of the bracket Friday afternoon, Rozeboom faced sixth-ranked Caleb Wilson of Denver-Tripoli. Both wrestlers stayed heavy on the head, fighting for position but it was Rozeboom who got around Wilson first for the takedown with 45 seconds off the clock. Wilson continued to move on the bottom and quickly escaped. This time Rozeboom got to Wilson’s leg and elevated for the takedown. In the second period, Rozeboom deferred the choice to start and Wilson elected the bottom position. Wilson was able to create separation from Rozeboom for an escape to make the score 4-2, but Rozeboom scored another takedown in the period for a 6-2 tally. The Nighthawk started the third period on bottom and found his feet for an escape to build his lead to 7-2. Wilson found his offense and scored a takedown to make the score 7-4 but again Rozeboom found a way out and scored an escape. Each wrestler had several shot attempts but it was Wilson who scored another takedown in the third period, making the score 7-6. Rozeboom held position as time expired, claiming the 8-6 decision.
“Austin responded and he came back in this match,” said DeZeeuw. “The kid (Wilson) is a good wrestler; I knew that going in and I think Austin was a little spent at the end of that match — probably emotionally more so than conditioning.”
Looking to keep his bid for a spot on the podium alive, Rozeboom faced third-ranked Tanner Abbas of Clarion-Goldfield-Dows in consolation round three Friday night. “There are a few things we need to work on with his shots,” said DeZeeuw ahead of the match. “He’s getting deep and guys are getting to his back ankle so we’ll work to correct a few little things.”
The first period was highlighted by several scoring attempts by both wrestlers, including a deep single leg attempt by Abbas. Rozeboom was able to defend the shot and no points were awarded. Several scramble situations followed with no points scored until Abbas earned a takedown with 45 seconds remaining in the frame. Rozeboom found his feet and escaped to make the score 2-1 at the end of the first period.
Abbas deferred the choice to start the second period and Rozeboom elected to start from the bottom. He capitalized on the choice with an escape with only 15 ticks taken off the time clock to tie the match at 2. Abbas scored a takedown at the edge of the mat with 1:30 remaining in the match, but less than 10 seconds later Rozeboom escaped and found an opening for a single-leg attempt and worked to keep Abbas from getting out of bounds. But Rozeboom was unsuccessful and the officials reset the grapplers. This time it was Abbas who secured the takedown and went up 6-3 before the end of the second period.
In the third period, Rozeboom was warned for stalling but then found an opening and was able to get in on an ankle pick. But the Nighthawk couldn’t cash in on the 2-point takedown before the official called a stalemate. After the official’s reset, Rozeboom again got in on a single-leg attempt and this time made it count for the 2-point takedown. Abbas found the escape with just over a minute remaining in the period to go up 7-5 and parlayed that into a 2-point takedown to win the 9-5 decision over Rozeboom.
In the seventh-place match on Saturday, Rozeboom faced Jake Recker of Dowling Catholic. Rozeboom scored an early takedown and the first period ended 2-0. Recker started the second period on the bottom and managed to score an escape with less than 30 seconds remaining. Rozeboom started the third period on the bottom. The official warned Rozeboom for stalling but the Nighthawk grappler scored a reversal to secure the 4-1 decision and seventh-place finish.
But standing in seventh place on the podium Saturday night was not where Rozeboom wanted to be.
“I had my goals set high as usual; most everyone here has their goals set high,” said Rozeboom after the seventh-place match. “I came up short in the same thing as last year but this year it was a match before. I had it (quarterfinal match) in my control; I let it get out of my control; the other guy won,” he said.
DeZeeuw reiterated the accomplishment of the seventh-place finish.
“It’s disappointing he didn’t get as high on the medal sign or achieve the goals he set, but I’m not disappointed in his effort. When you lose that match to get to the semifinals, it’s hard to bounce back,” he said. “It’s hard on the back side when you weren’t anticipating that with the goals you had set but I’m not disappointed in what Austin’s done or in how he’s carried himself. There’s still a lot for him to hold his head high about here.”
For Rozeboom that is getting back to work in attempt to make his fourth trip to the state tournament next year.
“I’ll just keep working for the top,” he said.