RIVERSIDE, Calif. - California Baptist University Director of Athletics Dr. Micah Parker announced Friday the hiring of Lennie Zalesky as the Lancers' new wrestling coach.
Zalesky replaces previous coach John Petty, who resigned after three years at the helm.
Zalesky comes 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.
"We are thrilled to have Coach Zalesky join the Lancer family," said Parker. "Lennie's collegiate experience as an athlete and a coach are outstanding. He is a winner who also fits the mission of CBU athletics, which is to 'honor Christ through excellence in athletics.' Our goal is to become a major factor in NCAA Division II wrestling nationally, and we feel like we are blessed with the right person to lead us there."
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.
"I am really excited to be a part of an institution and program like CBU's," said Zalesky. "The mission of the school and the commitment it is making towards wrestling is both refreshing and exciting for me. Not only is CBU a great school to recruit to, but there aren't many Christian universities that have wrestling, which gives us a nice niche to work with. The pieces are in place for us to be successful, and I am looking forward to getting started."
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 2001.
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.