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CEDAR RAPIDS — Jan Rosenberg recalled the stories his mother and sister would tell after a long day at work.
The Rockaway, N.J., native took an interest in how their experiences varied from one day to the next. When Rosenberg transferred to Coe College from Rutgers, traveling more than 1,000 miles, he actually followed in their footsteps.
The senior 125-pounder is working toward his degree in nursing.
“It was a cool thing to continue to learn things from others, while doing something you love,” Rosenberg said of his mother, Renee, and sister, Lorraine. “I thought it was interesting and different.
“It reminded me of wrestling. You never know what is going to happen every day.”
Rosenberg has balanced the rigors of wrestling and nursing curriculum demands. The sixth-ranked Kohawk will attempt to earn his third straight national tournament berth at the NCAA Division III Central Regional on Saturday at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, beginning at 9 a.m.
“He’s done a great job of being a leader,” Coe Coach John Oostendorp said. “He’s really stepped up his wrestling game.
“He’s become more of a complete competitor. He’s winning matches in the third period.”
Rosenberg returned from an All-American finish last year, placing eighth. Instead of just waltzing into his starting spot, he had to earn it again, battling freshman Brady Wilsie. Rosenberg struggled with the early challenge, but secured the post, bringing a nine-match win streak and 20-6 mark into the postseason.
“At first, I wasn’t sure how to handle it,” Rosenberg said. “As the season went on, I tried every training partner in the room to get better. Everybody around my weight.”
Oostendorp praised Rosenberg’s mentality. He didn’t sulk or pout. Rosenberg worked to improve.
“He’s just got a great attitude,” Oostendorp said. “Always positive. Nothing gets him down.”
Rosenberg attributes that approach to a strong work ethic. The harder he works the more positive mind-set he creates. His parents are major contributors, picking him up with reassuring words when things are tough and supporting his move halfway across the country from his home state.
“I took it to heart,” Rosenberg said. “I realize I have one of the best coaches in the country, especially in D-III. If I can believe in that I can believe in what I put on the mat.”
Last year’s finish also helped with confidence. Rosenberg opened the 2016 NCAA Championships with a wild 13-12 victory over Wisconsin-La Crosse’s fifth-seeded Ryan Weinmann. He proved something to himself with that upset.
“It showed me if I wrestle my best match I could beat anybody,” Rosenberg said. “If I was firing on all cylinders, I can compete with anybody.”
Rosenberg is one of three ranked wrestlers in the 125 bracket. He joined Central’s No. 2 C.J. Pestano and fifth-ranked Arnulfo Olea, of Wartburg. Rosenberg owns a 12-10 victory over Olea, earning Iowa Conference Wrestler of the Week honors on Feb. 1. He also fought Pestano to a one-point decision early in the season.
He said IIAC battles prepare him for postseason bouts with non-conference foes.
“I like the Iowa Conference because of how tough it is,” Rosenberg said. “I’m going to do what I’ve been training to do all season. I’m just going to step on the line and give it my best effort.”
The field consists of all IIAC programs, Cornell College, Augustana (Ill.), MacMurray (Ill.) College, Huntingdon (Ala.) College, University of the Ozarks (Ark.) and Millikin (Ill.) University. The top three individuals advance to the NCAA D-III Championships on March 10-11 at La Crosse, Wis.
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