UC Davis took on a pair of conference foes this weekend, defeating Oregon State 22-12 Friday night at the Pavilion before falling to Cal State Fullerton 22-12 on Sunday afternoon.
After splitting their weekend duals, the Aggies stand at 3-3 in Pacific-10 Conference action and 7-5 overall.
UC Davis has been plagued by injuries in their last two duals, as they were forced to forfeit in two classes and use inexperienced wrestlers in three other classes.
“It’s tough when you’re missing five out of your 10 varsity wrestlers,” coach Lennie Zalesky said. “We were hoping to have all 10 wrestlers back by this weekend.“
The banged-up Aggies had most of their team back for Oregon State, allowing them to pick up an impressive conference win, but weren’t healthy enough to get past the Titans.
Friday – UC Davis 22, Oregon State 12
The stage was set: Zalesky vs. Zalesky.
On one side was older brother Lennie and the UC Davis Aggies, and on the other sat younger brother Jim and the Oregon State Beavers.
At the end of the day, it was the Aggies that beat the Beavers 22-12, but Lennie saw the win as more than just a victory over his brother.
“I don’t know if I enjoy beating my brother as much as I enjoy beating a program like Oregon State,” Zalesky said. “They’ve got a history of national champions. It feels good to beat big programs like that.“
The story wasn’t about the sibling rivalry as much as it was about the team effort put forth by the Aggies and their tenacity to keep pushing even through injuries.
“It was an outstanding performance. Some of our best performances of the year,” Zalesky said. “Those guys in there, even though they’re not 100 percent, they fought.“
No one fought harder than senior Dustin Noack.
The injured 165-pound wrestler battled one of the Pac-10‘s toughest in Keegan Davis. At one point, Davis picked Noack up and dropped him on his head in what could have been perceived as a potentially dangerous move, meaning the referee could have stopped the dual.
Instead, the Noack-Davis match continued, as Noack refused to stop wrestling and picked up a 6-5 decision in overtime, giving the Aggies all the momentum they’d need to finish off the Beavers.
“He showed some mental toughness for sure. A lot of mental courage,” Zalesky said of Noack. “Him coming back and winning against a kid who’s ranked 14th – that’s a big, big win.“
The Aggies rallied around Noack, and despite all the injuries, were able to come up with a big win against one of the nation’s toughest teams.
Sunday – Cal State Fullerton 22, UC Davis 12
UC Davis seemed to have all the momentum going into Sunday’s dual with the Titans after beating Oregon State, but injuries took their toll on the Aggies once again.
UC Davis was forced to forfeit at 165 pounds and was without starting heavyweight wrestler Ricky Alcala, which proved too much for the Aggies to overcome as they fell to the Titans in Fullerton.
One bright spot for the Aggies was sophomore Barrett Abel, who pushed his dual record to 11-1 on the year. The 11 dual victories put him in a tie for 10th place on the Aggies single season list.
UC Davis hopes to return to full health before they travel to Idaho to dual with Pac-10 frontrunner and No. 11 Boise State Saturday night.
KYLE HYLAND can be reached at email@example.com.