Lennie Zalesky was hired as California Baptist University's second wrestling coach on June 17, 2011. The Lancers have continued their trend of national success and transitioned to full NCAA Division II and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference membership under Zalesky.
In three seasons, Zalesky led CBU to an 26-19-1, 3-1 in RMAC record, a pair of top-two finishes nationally, in addition to coaching 18 All-Americans and four individual national champions. The Lancers also won a program-best 11 duals in the 2013-14 season.
The Lancers had an impressive debut in the NCAA in 2013-14 with Zalesky at the helm. They went 11-4-1, 3-1 in the RMAC and defeated two Division I institutions in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Grand Canyon. CBU placed second at its first-ever Division II Super Region IV and Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Championships, with half of its lineup advancing to the NCAA Championships. Three Lancers won regional/conference titles, with three wrestlers going on to earn NCAA All-American status. CBU took 12th place overall nationally in its inaugural campaign in the NCAA.
In the 2012-13 season, Zalesky led the Lancers to a first place finish at the NCWA National Championship, grabbing the second title in program history. CBU had two individual champions at the meet and nine All-Americans. It was CBU's third tournament victory of the season.
In his first season at the helm, Zalesky led the Lancers to a runner-up finish at the 2012 NCWA National Championship, with six Lancers earning All-American honors and two winning individual titles. The Lancers also got dual meet wins over four NCAA Division II ranked opponents in 2012.
Zalesky came to Riverside after nine years as the head coach at NCAA Division I UC Davis. He was a three-time NCAA All-American and a former assistant coach at powerhouse Iowa and has extensive coaching experience at both the prep and collegiate levels as well as international experience as an athlete.
Zalesky coached nine seasons at UC Davis before the program was dropped prior to the 2010-11 season. In those nine seasons, he coached numerous Pac-10 placers, four conference champions and had 27 athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships. Perhaps his best season came in 2007 when he was named Pac-10 Coach of the Year and also coached the Aggies' first-ever NCAA Division I National Champion in any sport in Derek Moore (141 pounds), which helped UC Davis finish 22nd at the NCAA National Championships, its best showing ever. Moore was also named Outstanding Wrestler.
In 2009 and 2010, his teams earned a perfect Academic Progress Rate score, ranking as one of the top teams in the nation.
Prior to beginning his coaching career in 1986, Zalesky was a three-time All-American wrestler at Iowa. During his time there, he helped the Hawkeyes to four straight national championships, and he notched a record of 73-2-1 in his last two seasons. He was twice the national runner-up at 142 pounds and won three Big Ten titles.
His first coaching job came at his alma mater where he served under the legendary Dan Gable from 1986-90. He then spent eight seasons as the head wrestling coach at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska. In 2010, he was inducted into the Alaska Wrestling Hall of Fame.
He also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Indiana and then was the dean of students and wrestling coach at Culver Military Academy in Culver, Ind., for two years prior to taking the UC Davis job in the summer of 2011.
After his collegiate wrestling career concluded, Zalesky began competing internationally, winning a handful of tournaments from 1983-86. He won a silver medal in the 1983 Pan American Games, the 1984 World Cup, 1984 Tblisi Tournament in Russia and the 1983 Canadian Cup.
Zalesky graduated from Iowa in 1983 with a degree in finance and later earned another bachelor's in education and Russian language in 1990, also from Iowa. He earned a master's from Indiana in Slavic linguistics and literature in 2000. He was recognized five times in the 1990s for outstanding achievement by the American Council of Teachers of Russian.