In 2007, the Aggies enjoyed their highest-ever showing at the D-I tournament, finishing in a tie for 22nd place. Helping that cause was senior 141-pounder Derek Moore, who captured the program's first D-I individual title with his 17-2 technical fall over Northwestern's Ryan Lang. For his part, Zalesky was selected as Pacific-10 Conference Coach of the Year, another first for the program.
Zalesky, a three-time All-American wrestler and former assistant coach at powerhouse Iowa, has extensive coaching experience at both the collegiate and high school levels, and holds exceptional credentials as a former collegiate wrestler.
During his collegiate career, Zalesky helped the Hawkeyes to four consecutive NCAA team titles and sported a record of 73-2-1 in his last two seasons. Individually, he twice finished as national runner-up in the 142-pound division at the NCAA D-I Championships. Additionally, he won three Big Ten titles and was named team MVP in 1982.
Zalesky has also competed internationally, having won gold medals at the Serro Pulato Tournament in Cuba in 1986 and the Henry DeGalgne Tournament in Nice France in 1983 at the 68-kilogram weight class. Additionally, he captured silver medals at the 1983 Pan American Games, the 1984 World Cup, the 1984 Tblisi Tournament (Russia) and the 1983 Canadian Cup.
As a coach, Zalesky came to UC Davis from Culver, Indiana, where he was head wrestling coach and counselor at Culver Military Academy. Before then, he served as top assistant for the Indiana Hoosier wrestling program. He focused mainly on recruiting and technical development during his tenure in Bloomington, while completing his master's degree in Slavic linguistics and literature in 2000.
Zalesky enjoyed a successful eight-year stint at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. There he guided his team to a state title, mentored 17 individual state champions and earned 1996 Alaska Coach of the Year.
His first collegiate coaching experience came at his alma mater, for which he served as assistant coach under the legendary Dan Gable from 1986 to 1990. During that span, he added additional bachelor's degrees in education and Russian to go with the degree in finance he had earned in 1983.
In addition to his tutelage of outstanding student-athletes, Zalesky has also attracted top-level talent to his coaching staff at UC Davis. Thus far, his all-time roster of assistant coaches has included Quincey Clark, a two-time national Greco-Roman champion and All-American at San Diego State; and Mat Orndorff, an All-American and three-time Pac-10 Conference finalist at Oregon State.
More recently, Zalesky has enlisted the expertise of Mark Muñoz, the 2001 NCAA champion at Oklahoma State; Jeremiah Jarvis, UC Davis' first Pac-10 champion, Urijah Faber, the Aggie record-holder for victories and later a mixed martial arts standout; and Matt Sanchez, an All-American and Pac-10 finalist at Cal State Bakersfield.
Zalesky's current coaching team includes Alex Tirapelle, two-time All-American and two-time Big Ten champion; and Kevin Stanley, a four-time NCAA qualifier and 2001 All-American.
Zalesky's brother, Jim, was the former coach for Iowa, which captured nine NCAA championships in 12 years, and was featured on the ESPN series The Season. In 2003, the Zalesky brothers squared off as opposing coaches for the first time as the Aggie team traveled to Iowa City for a dual match. Then in 2005, the Hawkeyes visited UC Davis for a dual on January 9. The match was contested in front of a record crowd of more than 5,000 fans at the Pavilion.
His wife Maria, formerly the special events coordinator for the Aggie athletics department, now serves as the director of parent programs for UC Davis alumni relations.
Wrestling | 03/31/2010McBryde Receives Pac-10 All-Academic Honors
UC Davis sophomore Rory McBryde was named to the 2010 Pacific-10 Conference Wrestling All-Academic First Team, it was announced today by Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott. MORE
Wrestling | 03/18/2010Aggies Complete Action at NCAA Championships
Brandon Low, Barrett Abel and Ricky Alcala were eliminated from the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships Thursday at the Qwest Center Omaha in Omaha, Neb. MORE
Wrestling | 03/17/2010Low, Abel, Alcala Head to NCAA Championships
UC Davis (3-12, 1-6 Pac-10) will send Brandon Low, Barrett Abel and Ricky Alcala to the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships. The three-day tournament will be held at the Qwest Center Omaha in Omaha, Neb. MORE
Wrestling | 03/10/2010NCAA Announces Wrestling Championship Brackets
The brakcets for the 2010 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships have been released, it was announced Wednesday. Barrett Abel, Brandon Low and Ricky Alcala will represent UC Davis as all three automatically qualified after successful weekends at the Pac-10 Wrestling Championships Feb. 27. MORE
Wrestling | 02/27/2010Abel Wins Pac-10 Title, Low Second
Barrett Abel won UC Davis' first Pac-10 individual title since 2007 after earning a 12-9 decision over Cal Poly's Nick Fisher at 149 pounds Saturday at the 2010 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships in Davis, Calif. MORE
Wrestling | 02/26/2010Low, Abel Advance to Pac-10 Finals
Brandon Low earned a comeback victory at 133 while Barrett Abel won by a 5-3 decision at 149 Friday to advance to the finals of the 2010 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships at The Pavilion in Davis, Calif. MORE
Wrestling | 02/25/2010Pac-10 Conference Announces Seeding for Champio...
The Pacific-10 Conference has released the seeding bracket for the 2010 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships, it was announced Friday. UC Davis is led by junior Brandon Low who is the No. 1 seed at 133 pounds and junior Barrett Abel who is seeded second at 149 pounds. Ricky Alcala is the fourth seed ... MORE
Wrestling | 02/24/2010UC Davis Prepares for Pac-10 Championships
UC Davis (3-12, 1-6 Pac-10) prepares to compete in the 2010 Pac-10 Wrestling Championships Feb. 26-27, which it will also host. The two-day tournament will begin Friday, Feb. 26 at noon with the first session and will continue into Saturday., Feb. 27. The Pac-10 Wrestling Championship Finals will... MORE
Wrestling | 02/13/2010Aggies Drop Dual Against Cal State Bakersfield
The UC Davis wrestling team dropped a 39-4 decision to Cal State Bakersfield in a Pac-10 matchup Saturday at the Icardo Center in Bakersfield, Calif. MORE
Wrestling | 02/12/2010Cal Poly Beats UC Davis 34-7 In Pac-10 Matchup
Fifteenth-ranked Brandon Low and No. 16 Ricky Alcala each picked up victories for UC Davis on Friday night but No. 16 Cal Poly posted wins in the remaining eight matches on its way to a 34-7 Pac-10 wrestling match at Mott Gym. MORE