Lennie Zalesky – Lifetime Service to Wrestling
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Lennie Zalesky

Honor: Lifetime Service to Wrestling
Year: 2022
Gender: Male
About Lennie:

He has just retired as Head Wrestling Coach at California Baptist University in Riverside after 40 years dedicated to the sport. Since 2011, he developed the CBU program towards its acceptance as a NCAA Division 1 member of the Big 12 Conference beginning next season. Lennie led CBU to four top-three national finishes, earning him the NCAA Division II Coach of the Year award in 2017. The Lancers finished 3rd in 2015 and 2016, and Zalesky had three NCAA Champions among his 15 All-Americans.

Before starting his coaching career, he was a three-time Big 10 Conference Champion and All-American at the University of Iowa where he compiled a record of 82-15 over three seasons. After placing 4th in the NCAA Championships in 1980, Zalesky was runner-up at 142 pounds in 1981 and 1982, helping the Hawkeyes to win four straight national titles during his career there.

As an assistant coach under legendary Dan Gable at Iowa from 1986-90, he coached Tom and Terry Brand. He then spent eight years as the Head Wrestling Coach at Palmer High School in Palmer, Alaska from 1990-98, winning the State Championship in 1996 and the High School Coach of the Year award. Lennie then spent two years as an assistant coach. At the University of Indiana, followed by two years as the Dean of Students and the wrestling coach at Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana.

Zalesky became Head Wrestling Coach at the University of California-Davis in 1992, and in nine seasons before the program was dropped there, he coached many PAC-10 placers and four league champions among his 27 qualifiers to the NCAA Championships. He was named the PAC-10 Coach of the Year in 2007 when the Aggies finished 22nd at the NCAA Championships, their best finish ever. Lennie coached their first ever NCAA Champion in any sport when Derek Moore won the title at 141 pounds. Moore will now take over the program at Cal Baptist University.

After concluding his collegiate wrestling, Zalesky has great success in international competition. He won silver medals in 1983 at the Pan American Games and in the Canadian Cup. In 1984, he won silver medals at the Tblisi Tournament in the former Soviet Union and in the World Cup, then a gold medal at France’s Henry DeGalgne International Tournament. In 1986, he won another gold medal at the Cerro Pelado International Tournament in Cuba.

Zalesky has already been inducted into the Alaska Wrestling Hall of Fame, the Iowa Wrestling Hall of Fame, and the California Wrestling Hall of Fame.