March 29, 2007
DAVIS, Calif. -
In a season full of firsts, the UC Davis wrestling program can now add two more to the list as head coach Lennie Zalesky and senior 141-pounder Derek Moore have been named Pacific-10 Coach and Wrestler of the Year, respectively, marking the first time any Aggie has garnered such honors. The announcement came today from Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen.
Moore capped an outstanding senior campaign by becoming the first UC Davis student-athlete to win an NCAA Division I national championship with his 17-2 technical fall over No. 1 and previously undefeated Ryan Lang of Northwestern. Along with winning the first-ever Division I title for the Aggies, Moore also became the first UC Davis wrestler to accomplish several feats, which included winning back-to-back Pac-10 titles, ranking No. 2 nationally, earning a No. 2 seed at nationals, earning NCAA Most Outstanding Wrestler of the national tournament, earning Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year honors and finishing the season undefeated.
"All these awards seem to keep coming my way, and it's such an honor to be recognized," said Moore. "I'm happy to get this award more for Coach Z (Zalesky) than anything. It's so great for UC Davis."
"You have very few chances in your career to coach athletes of Derek's caliber and I'm just excited to have seen him transform into a champion," said Zalesky. "He had great performances all year long. From beating No. 4 Nathan Morgan in Oklahoma; to winning at Las Vegas; to claiming the national title. It's an amazing way to cap off his career."
This is also the first Pac-10 award for Zalesky, who led the Aggies to a 6-2 record in Pac-10 duals and a best-ever finish of third at the conference championships with a school-record point total of 96.5. This season the Aggies rolled off six straight Pac-10 dual wins and upset then-No.19 Oregon State to earn the first national team ranking in program history. Overall, UC Davis earned its highest ever national finish of 22nd with another school-record point total of 29.5.
"This award is very unexpected," said Zalesky. "I have to give a lot of credit to my assistant coaches and the student-athletes on the team because there's so many factors that go into winning an award like this. I know that win over Oregon State helped a lot in this decision."
The Aggie wrestling team finished the season with an overall record of 8-7 and were ranked 25th by the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA)and as high as 13th by RevWrestling.com. The team also sent a school-record five student-athletes to the national tournament in Detroit, Mich. and had a record four of those wrestlers advance to the second day of the competition.