The UC Davis wrestling team had a very busy winter break taking on No. 4 Oklahoma State at home as well as participating in two tournaments.
Although the Aggies were met with disappointing defeat against the Cowboys by a 43-0 margin, they had strong showings at the Reno Tournament as they finished in thirteenth place out of a field of 25 strong teams.
The Aggies then traveled to the Menlo Tournament and posted a strong third-place finish out of 15 teams.
With the two impressive tournament performances, the Aggies seem to be bouncing back nicely from tough losses against Oklahoma State and Arizona State earlier this year.
They are, however, still trying to find an identity as such a young squad.
Dec. 18 – Oklahoma State 43, UC Davis 0
The Aggies were hoping to shine on the national stage again as they did last year when they defeated No. 10 Northwestern by a score of 23-15 at the Pavilion.
In that match, UC Davis had a large crowd, something that coach Lennie Zalesky was hoping for again to help motivate his team.
“In the past, there are great performances at home that have always been with a large crowd,” Zalesky said. “The Iowa match several years ago where we pulled three upsets out of 10 to win three of the matches as well as the Oregon State matches.”
Unfortunately, UC Davis does not have the team they’ve had in years past and with a squad comprised of 20 freshmen, the Aggies did not have enough experience to upset nationally ranked Oklahoma State.
The Aggies had three wrestlers making their debuts against the Cowboys including redshirt freshman Kody Klaus who made his first start with the Aggies in the 125-pound weight class.
Junior Brandon Low, ranked 14th nationally, faced No. 7 Jordan Oliver in the 133-pound weight division. An exciting match saw Low trail by one through most of meet only to end in a 6-4 loss.
No. 18 Abel looked as if he would get the Aggies on the board at 149 pounds with a quick start taking the lead 9-2. Abel opponent, Quintin Fuentes, was able to overcome his early deficit to eventually defeat Abel by pin.
Dec. 20 – Reno Tournament of Champions
After a rough match against the Cowboys at the Pavilion the Aggies came back strong at the Reno tournament where they faced some tough competition including a rematch with Oklahoma State.
Abel and Alcala were two of the Aggies found themselves in another contest with the Cowboys wrestlers.
Alcala won three straight including an upset victory over No. 2 seed Mitch Monteiro of Cal State Bakersfield before falling to No. 1 Jared Rosholt from Oklahoma State in the championship match by 2-1 score.
Abel was the No. 3 seed in the 149-pound class and won his first three matches before falling to the second seed.
After the loss, Abel had a rematch with the Cowboy’s Fuentes. Abel got some revenge as this time he pinned Fuentes at the 2:40 mark giving him third place.
Alcala and Abel’s strong finishes paced the Aggies as they lead them to a 13th place finish as a team.
Sunday – Menlo Tournament
The Aggies took their momentum from Reno to Menlo where they finished an impressive third out of 15 teams at the tournament.
The Aggies were lead by Randall Watts’ first-place finish at 149 pounds and Rory McBryde’s first-place finish at 184.
Other strong finishers include Mark Jay Acosta’s coming in at second at 125, David Watt’s third-place finish at 157 and Josh Esparza placing fourth at 174.
The Aggies looked impressive at the Menlo Tournament and are hoping to carry that momentum into next week as they will be competing at the Virginia duals in Hampton, Va.
KYLE HYLAND can be reached at email@example.com.