top of page

Iowa History Daily: January 15 - Mat-Man Jim Zalesky

Iowa History Daily: On January 15, 1961, legendary Cedar Rapids Prairie & Iowa Hawkeye wrestler Jim Zalesky was born. A two-time Iowa State Champ in high school, Zalesky went on to become a three-time NCAA champ for the Hawkeyes.

Wrestling at Cedar Rapids Prairie for Coach Ron James, Zalesky flew high for the Hawks to capture a 99-12 record over his prep career. After capturing two state championships, Zalesky rolled down Interstate-380 to start a dominant career at the University of Iowa.

A four-time All-American at Iowa from 1981 to 1984, Zalesky won the NCAA individual title in the 158 pound division in 1982, 1983, and 1984. Zalesky racked up a 131-7 won-loss record which included an 89 match win streak. Named Outstanding Wrestler of the NCAA Tournament in 1984; All-American in 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984; Big Ten Champion in 1982, 1983, 1984; and named Outstanding Wrestler of Big Ten Tournament in 1984, helped etch Zalesky’s name among the all-time greats at Iowa.

Succeeding Dan Gable as head coach at Iowa, Zalesky guided the Hawkeyes to three NCAA team championships (1998, 1999, and 2000). In 2004, the National Wrestling Hall of Fame inducted Zalesky as a Distinguished Member. Today, Zalesky leads the wrestling program at the University of Jamestown in North Dakota. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


bottom of page