Published March 15, 2005
By Michael Mirer/Enterprise staff writer
It's in the nearly imperceptible drop of the shoulder or the crouch that leaves just enough leg exposed.
Derek Moore and Brandon Bear have been to nationals before and know that the margin between the good wrestlers and the All-Americans is small.
It's the same with their military work, whether it's presenting themselves in uniform or participating in hands-on training in the field. The margins are small and details matter.
"For the military it's knowing how you should be paying attention to things, to learn how to be a leader," Moore said. "In wrestling it's about knowing when to take your shots."
Bear and Moore are members of the Reserve Officers Training Corps at UC Davis. They will also be among the four Aggie wrestlers who take to the mats at the Division I national championship this week in St. Louis. They will be joined by first-timers Ronnie Silva (174 pounds) and Jeff Bristol (141).
Moore and Bear are essentially walk-ons in the UCD program, receiving much of their scholarship money from the ROTC program, rather than athletics. When they leave school they will serve four years of active duty in the Army and then four more in the reserves.
That's no small commitment in an uncertain world.
But both wrestlers have a tradition of military service in their families. And each said he joined to combine what seemed like an interesting career with the chance to have their educations paid for.
"I'm all about new experiences, and this was something that would be interesting," Moore said.
Moore, a Redding-native, passed up scholarship offers from further away to walk on closer to home. But that also meant he needed to find a way to pay his tuition at UCD. His brother and his grandfather both served in the Air Force, so the military was something he had been considering anyway.
"I knew it was free money," Moore said. "It was four years rather than paying off student loans for the next 20 years. And anyway, what's harder than wrestling practice."
Bear's story is similar. Lightly recruited out of Modesto Junior College, he followed his roommate to UCD and looked to walk on to the team. He and his family visited campus and began looking for ways to pay for college.
Bear's interest in the military grew from days in front of the History Channel, watching stories of long-ago conflicts.
"I wanted to do something different," Bear said. "I never really wanted to sit behind a desk."
During the wrestling season, Moore and Bear spend about three hours per week doing ROTC training.
"It's all about work ethic and teamwork," UCD coach Lennie Zalesky said of ROTC. "It has to do with a regimented life and some of that carries over into what we do."
Out of season that commitment increased to about nine hours per week. They also have to take one class per quarter in the military sciences. When they are finished with school they will be commissioned into the army as officers, before heading off to training.
Moore and Bear return to St. Louis nationally ranked in their weight classes. Moore is 15th in the nation at 133 pounds and has been one of UCD's top performer all year. As a freshman last season he missed becoming an All-American (finishing in the top eight) by a single point.
Moore was tied at the end his bout, but lost by a point because his opponent had 1 minutes, 5 seconds of match control. A wrestler gets one point for having more than one minute of control.
"I've been waiting for this moment," Moore said. "That one match, I've been going over it my head since it happened. Now it's six days away."
Bear (184) went 0-2 at nationals last season and pronounced himself unhappy with his performance. This year he's riding a wave of confidence dating to his Jan. 9 win over second-ranked Paul Bradley of Iowa.
"That win really opened my eyes a bit and helped me realize that I can compete," Bear said. "I knew I was wrestling well but that match really opened my eyes."
And with three others first-timers heading to nationals Bear and Moore are the old pros. The advice they'll give to the others is to just relax.
"Stay calm," Bear said. "Everybody has beaten some good guys this year. This not going to be any different."
- Reach Michael Mirer at email@example.com
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