Jim Zalesky Named Wrestling Coach At Oregon State

April 18, 2006

Courtesy Oregon State Athletics


Jim Zalesky, who coached Iowa to three NCAA team championships, has been named the 17th head coach in the history of the Oregon State University wrestling program, Director of Athletics Bob De Carolis announced Friday. Zalesky takes over the Beaver program after 14-year head coach Joe Wells announced his retirement earlier in the week.


Zalesky compiled a 127-34 dual meet record at the University of Iowa, serving as head coach from the 1997-98 season through the 2005-06 season. His teams won NCAA titles in 1998, 1999 and 2000, and the Hawkeyes finished second in 2001 and 2004. Zalesky's teams captured three Big Ten team titles and his wrestlers won 10 NCAA individual titles and 45 All-American honors.


 "I'm tempted to say we hit another home run in hiring a coach," De Carolis said. "In this case, though, it's probably more appropriate to say we just scored a ton of bonus points. In bringing in Jim Zalesky, we're adding a coach to our staff who has won three national championships. He brings a championship work ethic and a championship legacy with him to Oregon State, and we're extremely pleased and excited that Jim will be part of the Beaver family. We look for him to take our wrestling program to the next level."


Zalesky will formally be introduced as OSU's head coach at a news conference on Tuesday at 12 noon on the Valley Football Center's third floor; the event is open to the public.  Following the news conference, Zalesky will be a guest on KEJO-AM (1240)'s Joe Beaver Show, then will be available for fans to meet.


The audio of the press conference will be available live via OregonLive; audio and video will be available later Tuesday afternoon on Beaver Nation Online at www.osubeavers.com.  The public is also invited to attend a reception at Hayden's Lakefront Grill in Tualatin from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.


Zalesky's five-year contract calls for a base salary of $90,000 per year with incentives for the wrestling team's postseason and academic accomplishments.


Zalesky wrestled for Iowa in the early 1980s and was a four-time All-American and three-time NCAA champion at 158 pounds, ending his Hawkeye career with an 89-match winning streak. The Amateur Wrestling News named him the Wrestler of the Decade for the 1980s.


 "Oregon State has a great tradition," Zalesky said. "And the athletic department's administration and coaches impressed me. This is an environment I want to work in.


 "You've got the backing of the administration, which is key. You've also got good Oregon high school wrestling, there's a good base there, and that's a key to a successful program. And there's the tradition of what (former coach) Dale Thomas did there for so long, and Joe Wells took that and kept it going."


The Beavers rank third in all-time dual meet victories with an 895-286-26 mark dating back to 1909. OSU has won 44 team conference championships and 200 individual conference titles; the Beavers have placed in the top 10 at the NCAA Championships 18 times; and OSU wrestlers have earned 81 All-America honors, including 12 national titles. In the pre-NCAA Championships era, Oregon State won the 1926 team national title at the Amateur Athletic Association meet.


"There's a good base, and you've just got to build up on it," Zalesky said. "You have to make sure guys know you have high goals and high expectations."


Zalesky was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2004, the University of Iowa Letterman's Club Hall of Fame and the Iowa High School Athletic Association Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2002, and the Iowa wrestling Hall of Fame in 1994.


"I will bring a wealth of experience to the program, both from a coaching and competition standpoint,"  Zalesky said.  "I have high goals for this program.  It takes a lot of hard work, but if you are willing to put the work in, a lot of good things can happen.


"I think you have to put a good product on the mat. You have to realize that we our entertainers because people want action.  My philosophy is, I want to put a lot of points on the board, I want to pin guys. If we can do that and we are entertaining, you'll get people to come watch you and they will keep coming back ... fans like aggressive wrestling and that's the style I'm going to coach."


Zalesky's coaching career also includes three years as an assistant coach at Minnesota and seven seasons as an assistant under legendary Iowa coach Dan Gable. As an assistant at Iowa, Zalesky was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year twice.


Zalesky inherits an Oregon State program that had one of its finest dual meets seasons in the past several decades with a 13-2-1 record in 2005-06, including beating nationally ranked Hofstra and Cal Poly. OSU placed fourth in the Pac-10 Championships and tied for 41st at the NCAA Championships. OSU could have as many as five wrestlers who qualified for the 2006 NCAA Championships returning for the 2007 season.


"Joe Wells left a good foundation, and I intend to keep building on it," Zalesky said.


Zalesky is a 1984 graduate of Iowa.  He and his wife, Teri, have four children.


"My family and I are looking forward to being out there and being part of Oregon State University," Zalesky said.



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