The UC Davis wrestling team traveled to Fullerton, Calif. for the Pacific-10 Championships with high expectations.
“I believe we have one of the most well-rounded teams that we have ever had,” Zalesky said. “Each weight class has a wrestler who will be able to compete with a top-ranked wrestler.”
Leaving Titan Gym with three third-place performances and two individual berths to the NCAA Championships, the Aggies didn’t disappoint, earning a solid fourth-place showing as a team.
UC Davis faced off against some of the best teams in the country. Nationally ranked Boise State took home the title – its second in a row. Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton finished second and third, respectively.
The Aggies had a total of six wrestlers make it to the third-place match in their classes. Senior Marcos Orozco (125 pounds) and sophomores Barrett Abel (149) and Ricky Alcala (285) all won their third-place contests on the second day of the championships.
Senior Jon Clark (184) and sophomores Brandon Low and Abe Otrambo (197) came up short in their duals, each finishing fourth.
The Pac-10 is limited to 20 automatic qualifiers for the NCAA Championships. To determine who would move on, the tournament had second-place matches to find the automatic qualifier from 149, 157, 197 and 285. The runner-up and third-place finishers from these four classes met to determine berths for the NCAA Tournament.
Because of this new rule, Alcala took on Oregon State’s Clayton Jack, the runner-up in the heavyweight class. He defeated Jack in the second-place match, earning his first berth to the NCAA championships. Alcala was the only third-place finisher to knock off the runner-up in the four second-place duals.
Alcala dominated the second day of the competition by winning all three of his duals. He had an 11-2 major decision over Cal Poly’s Lenny Romero to start the night. He then pinned fourth-seeded Samuel Zylstrat of Boise State before knocking off Jack.
The Aggies‘ lone ranked wrestler, No. 17 Orozco also earned a berth to the NCAAs for his showing in the third-place match at 125 pounds. This is the third straight year that Orozco will go to the national championships.
The Aggies‘ trip to Fullerton, however, was not a total success, as seniors Dustin Noack (165) and Tyler Bernacchi (174) both forfeited due to injury. Had the two competed, UC Davis could have had a legitimate shot at a second- or third-place finish for the tournament.
While Orozco and Alcala are assured a spot in the NCAA Championships, the rest of the Aggies will have to wait until the remaining at-large bids are announced on Mar. 11. The national tournament will take place Mar. 19 to 21 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
KYLE HYLAND can be reached at email@example.com.