The Aggies left for the Virginia Duals with a lot of confidence as they had strong finishes at the Reno and Menlo tournaments over the winter break.
When the Aggies got to Hampton, Va., they couldn’t sustain their momentum, and they struggled throughout the tournament against an array of strong competition.
Going 0-3 on the first day of the invitational, UC Davis was unable to advance to the second day of action.
The Aggies started the tournament off slow as they were unable to find their groove in a 31-12 loss to No. 11 Lehigh in the opening match.
With the loss, the Aggies were sent to the consolation bracket where they fell to Ohio by the score of 29-12.
UC Davis finished off the day with a 32-9 consolation-round loss to Bucknell.
There were some bright spots for the Aggies as No. 13 heavyweight junior Ricky Alcala went 3-0 on the day including an impressive pin at the 1:30 mark against Bucknell’s Connor Sweeney.
No. 19 junior Barrett Abel went 2-1 during the first day with victories over Joey Napoli of Lehigh and Seth Morton of Ohio.
Despite having several bright spots individually, the Aggies were unable to pull together as a team and get a victory against strong competition.
No. 4 Oklahoma State, who defeated UC Davis 43-0 at the Pavilion on Dec. 18, ended up winning the tournament with a defeat of 11th-ranked Lehigh in the championship round.
After the tough weekend at the Virginia Duals, UC Davis is hoping to find some answers before they start Pac-10 play against Oregon State next week in Corvallis, Ore.
“I would say, quite honestly, that because we have such a young team, we are teaching them a lot of the things that the seniors from last year left with,” coach Lennie Zalesky said when referring to what the Aggies need to improve on. “There is a heavy emphasis on the basics and just sound wrestling.”
Zalesky is hoping the young Aggies squad will improve with all the tough tournaments they have been competing in this season. In turn, he expects the team will find its identity by working hard everyday and leaning on experienced wrestlers for support and leadership.
KYLE HYLAND can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.