Wrestling Meets the Media

Nov. 10, 2009

Full Video of Press Conference

Oregon State head wrestling coach Jim Zalesky, senior 157-pounder Keegan Davis (Salem, Ore.) and sophomore 165-pound transfer Ryan Smith (Prineville, Ore.) met the media on Tuesday, Nov. 10.

Coach Jim Zalesky

Thoughts on the team this year...


'I think there's a lot of youth there, but one good thing about it is it’s good youth. Some of the guys like at 141 pounds, Mike Mangrum who redshirt last year, coming out of his recruiting class he was ranked number five in the country. He won two national titles before at the junior level. There's tough guys, freshman and sophomores, so I look at our line, and we possibly have seven or eight of our guys that are freshman and sophomores, but I think they're going to be competitive.'


On RJ Pena's high school record coming into college..


'One thing that we've done to build the program is bring guys in and redshirt them unless they can make a difference in the program. He's one of those guys that might be able to make a difference for us this year so we'll look at him this weekend – we have a tournament this weekend at Southern Oregon – so we'll look at how he competes down there. He's looked good in the room and the weight class. The weight class isn't a really deep weight class on a national level, so if we feel he's the difference on our team going from one level to the next then we'll probably look at using him.'


On transfers coming in


We came out here when the program was a little down and recruited them, but they thought the grass was greener someplace else. They found out it wasnt. They see what were doing here, the kind of kids were bringing in and they wanted to come back and be a part of here. I always tell recruits the closer you are to your support system, the easier it is. Its tough going away sometimes you have your parents and family and friends and they cant watch you wrestle but here they can.


Quality of high school wrestling programs in the Northwest...


'When I came out here I thought there were good quality kids. We look at three states really. We look at Oregon, we look at Washington and we look at California. We feel those three states are our main recruiting areas that we can get a team that can compete on a national level.'


On the schedule


I love it. Its a tough schedule. We want to wrestle a tough schedule. One of the things that has changed in the last year is that you can go to the Pac-10 tournament and already be qualified. The qualifying system is based on how you do during the year, so how you do in November and December and in January counts. Right off the bat we have Boise State and Wisconsin, two top 10 teams in some polls. We go to Las Vegas and will see a lot of competition there and the Midlands tournament where well see great individuals there. Were going to see all the top teams during the year, and thats what you have to have.


On the weigh classes strength


I feel this is the first year were going to be competitive in every weight class. When you look at line up, you look at holes. I dont feel we have any holes this year. I feel like any weight class we can put a guy out there to compete with whoever theyre wrestling.


On the importance of the Endowment Fund Meet


“Its a great meet because you have two top programs coming in. For us, its good to put our team on the map. Right now, were not on the map. You look at the top-ranked teams, and were not there. We feel we should be, but we have to earn it. Were looking to those first two meets to prove ourselves and get in the rankings and start climbing the rankings as a team.”


On having the only Division I status in the state


“Id rather see Oregon having to start a program, and Portland State. If youre the only program here, you have to build it up so hopefully more people look to get wrestling back. Washington has great wrestling. They dont have Division I wrestling programs up there, no four-year wrestling programs, so we can get some of the best kids there. We just have to do our job here, and hopefully that raises awareness of wrestling at a collegiate level.”


On getting transfers, and giving them opportunities


“Its a testament to your program when you want people to come back and transfer to your program. We got Jason Lara, who transferred here. He went to Michigan his first year and transferred back here. When we get those guys back, you just want to make sure you do your homework and make sure they fit in. Just watching him in high school, I knew [Ryan Smith} would fit in for us.”



Keegan Davis


Thoughts about finishing out his senior season...


“I'm going down to 157 this year, and I think its going to be a good move. I was a little small for 165 so they just want me where I'm going to be most competitive, I'm excited for the season especially with this group of guys, really tough guys. I'm looking forward to my last season at Oregon State.”


Thoughts about wrestling with RJ


“He came in when I was a senior, so he was just a little guy, I didnt wrestle with him too much but he was on the team with me. Itll be fun having him in the room this year. Hes actually closer to my size so we get to wrestle around a little.”


On being a leader


“Im following a lot of good leaders, so I have some shoes to fill. Its a good team; they follow my lead pretty well. These transfers helped a lot in making the room a lot tougher. Everybodys doing the job theyre here to do.”


Ryan Smith


On coming back to Oregon to wrestle at Oregon State...


“I had a good opportunity going [at Oklahoma] to wrestle, but once I got out there I just kind of found out that I didn't exactly fit in with the program as much. Being from Oregon originally with Coach Zalesky and what his staff is doing with the program, I thought it would be a great opportunity to come back and try to help build the program with them. It's just an exciting time here, so I'm glad to be back in Oregon.”


On his experience at Oklahoma...


“I had good experiences over there, but I feel like the philosophy of the program is a big part of whether you fit in or not. My style didn't match as well with the philosophy of Oklahoma, and here at Oregon State it's a very intense philosophy. You're in your opponents face constantly, and that kind of fits my style a little bit better. It was progressive. Over time I figured out it wasnt the best place for me.”


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