Aggie Wrestlers Travel To Bakersfield For Pac-10 Championships

UC Davis will attempt to improve on last year's sixth-place showing at the Pac-10's while Derek Moore and Ken Cook look to repeat as conference champions. (Wayne Tilcock, <i>Davis Enterprise</i>)
 
UC Davis will attempt to improve on last year's sixth-place showing at the Pac-10's while Derek Moore and Ken Cook look to repeat as conference champions. (Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise)
 

Feb. 21, 2007

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THIS WEEK
Feb. 24-25 - Pacific-10 Championships, All Day (Bakersfield)

LAST WEEK
Thursday, Feb. 15 - Lost to Cal Poly, 21-18

RECAP
The Aggies' lost thier final regular season match of the season last Thursday as Cal Poly spoiled senior night at Hickey Gymnasium with a 21-18 come-from-behind victory. The loss gives the Aggies a 6-2 record during the Pac-10 regular season while they finish 8-7 in duals.

Dustin Noack won his 18th match of the season at 165 pounds in convincing fashion as he pinned his oppenent in 1:17. Ken Cook at 174 and Marcos Orozco were the only other Aggies to earn decisions on the night. Eliot Kelly earned a forfiet at 197.

For the first time since joining the Pac-10 in the mid-90's, UC Davis has all ten starters ranked in the latest conference rankings.

PACIFIC-10 PREVIEW
UC Davis wrestling heads down to the Icardo Center on the campus of Cal State Bakersfield this weekend for the Pacific-10 Championships. For the first time in school history, the Aggies enter the tournament with all ten starters ranked in the Pac-10. Derek Moore at 141 and Ken Cook at 174 will look to defend their Pac-10 championships. Dustin Noack at 165 is the only Aggie ranked higher than second. Omar Gaitan is ranked third at 133.

A total of 39 Pac-10 wrestlers will earn bids to the NCAA Champinoships, which will be held at the Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, Mich. from March 15-17. All those who finish in the top-three in thier respective weight classes earned the automatic bids. There are then nine wild card bids up for grabs. The most wrestlers UC Davis has sent to nationals in a single season is four, which has happened the past three seasons.

Arizona State enters the tournament as the defending conference champion.

For the first time ever, fans can watch the Pac-10 Championships live free of charge online at www.pac10.org.

HEAD COACH Lennie Zalesky
On Team's Status: "Health wise we're not exactly were we need to be, but overall I think we're okay because those guys will fight through those injuries. I just wish we were a little bit healther heading into the Pac-10 Champinoships."

On Pac-10's: "I think a realistic finish for us this year is in the top three if everything goes right. I think we'll need everything to go perfectly to win this thing. Honestly, there's four or five teams who can compete to win the championship. It's going to be a wild race. I like that fact that we've been a better tournament team this year and that bodes well for us. I think we can easily get two or three conference champions and another couple of guys in the finals."

THE AGGIE LINEUP
125 POUNDS: Sophomore Marcos Orozco, who has represented UC Davis at 125 pounds for all 15 duals for the second straight season, will participate in his second Pac-10 championships. Orozco has posted 12 victories in NCAA countable matches this season and is 5-5 in Pac-10 dual competition. Orozco was ranked as high as second amongst Pac-10 125-pounders and held the No. 3 position for most of the season. He enters the tournament ranked fifth in the conference.

133 POUNDS: Senior Omar Gaitan, who is currently ranked No. 3 in the Pac-10 and was ranked 19th in the nation for several weeks at the start of the season, has an overall record of 17-7 this season and is tied for the team lead with five pins. Gaitan is 13-7 this season in NCAA-countable matches and is 7-4 in Pac-10 duals. Gaitan leads UC Davis in dual wins with 12 on the season, which ties him for fourth on the UC Davis season dual wins list. This will be Gaitan's second Pac-10 championship appearance. Last season he finished fourth and earned one of nine wild card births into the national championships.

141 POUNDS: No. 3 nationally ranked 141-pounder, senior Derek Moore, will represent UC Davis for the fourth consecutive year at the Pac-10's. Moore enters the tournament as the top-ranked Pac-10 wrestler at 141 pounds, where he has been all season. Moore spent the first six weeks of the season ranked second in the nation before falling to the third position after missing a few matches due to injury. He currently owns a perfect mark of 16-0 on the season, which includes six dual wins, eight wins against Pac-10 opponents and 13 wins in NCAA-countable matches. Moore leads the team with six major decisions to go along with his three pins and one technical fall. His season was highlighted by a championship at the Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational in November. Last season, Moore became the first Aggie ever to claim a conference championship at the 141-pound division and, along with teammate Ken Cook, became the first UC Davis wrestler to earn a seed at the National Championships.

149 POUNDS: Ranked fourth in the Pac-10 entering the championships, senior Shawn Haratani has been the Aggies' starting 149-pounder all season long. He has captured 13 overall victories this season, 11 of which came in NCAA-countable matches. Haratani earned a technical fall in the Aggies' dual with Columbia early this season. Haratani's best week of the season came during a stretch in which he led the Aggies to victories over Pac-10 rivals Oregon, Oregon State and Portland State by earning three victories, one of which was by fall, another by major decision and the third in the last seconds of a bout he was trailing.

157 POUNDS: Although injuries have limited him to only 12 matches this season, sophomore Jon Clark enters the Pac-10's ranked fifth. In his four overall victories this season, one came by major decision and three came against Pac-10 opponents. Competing in his second Pac-10 Championships in as many years, Clark is one of the Aggies' dark horses to make a run at qualifying for the national tournament.

165 POUNDS: In only his second season with the Aggies, sophomore Dustin Noack has established himself as one of the favorites to claim the 165-pound championship as he has been ranked second in the Pac-10 all season long. He is third on the team with 18 overall wins, 15 of which have come in NCAA-countable matches. He is a perfect 8-0 against Pac-10 opponents in duals this season and has accumulated 41 dual points for the Aggies. Of his eight wins in conference, two have come by major decision while two others were by fall. This is the first time Noack will represent the Aggies at the Pac-10 Championships.

174 POUNDS: Fourth-ranked Ken Cook enters his final Pac-10 Championships with UC Davis as the favorite to repeat as conference champion in the 174-pound division. With a team-leading five pins, 11 wins against conference opponents, 21 wins against NCAA-countable opponents and 53 dual points, Cook has been planted atop the Pac-10 standings all season. He currently owns the highest ranking of his career, which is No. 4 on the NWCA list. The highlight for Cook this season came at the Reno Tournament of Champions in December when he claimed the 174-pound championship with a perfect 5-0 record. Overall, Cook ranks second on the team with 21 wins and four major decisions. Last year Cook became the first Agggie to ever win a Pac-10 championship at 174 pounds and joined teammate Derek Moore as the first UC Davis wrestlers to earn seeds at the national championships.

184 POUNDS: Redshirt freshman Jeff Prentice enters his first Pac-10 Championships with an even 10-10 record in his inaugural collegiate season. An injury replacement for the Aggies normal 184-pounder, sophomore Tyler Bernacchi, Prentice has performed well at 184 pounds despite the fact that his is a more natural fit as a 174-pounder. Three of his 10 wins have come by fall and two more have come by major decision. Prentice will be one of the Aggies looking to pick up a wild card birth into the national tournament.

197 POUNDS: Arguably the most consistent Aggie wrestler all season, senior Eliot Kelly enters his second Pac-10 championships ranked fourth in the 197-pound weight class. Kelly has missed only three dual matches this season and currently leads UC Davis with 24 wins, 21 NCAA-countable victories and three technical falls while ranking second on the team with 52 dual points. Kelly is 11-2 against Pac-10 opponents and also has 11 wins in tournament competition. He has also piled up three victories by fall and four major decisions to go along with his three technical falls.

285 POUNDS: Rounding out the Aggie lineup is senior Broc Maffia, who has been the team's starter at the heavyweight division all season. Maffia enjoyed his first-ever ranking in the Pac-10 this season and enters sixth overall. The highlight of his season came against Fullerton in January when he pinned the 14th-ranked heavyweight, Wade Sauer, to lead the Aggies to a come-back victory. Maffia owns 12 wins and is tied for the team lead five pins. This will be Maffia's second time competing at the Pac-10 championships.