Greeley Central wrestler Alirez undefeated, but freshman has lofty goals for the future26 Dec 2015
After walking off the mat Saturday at one of the most prestigious wrestling tournaments in the state, Andrew “Boo Boo” Alirez had accomplished a rare feat.
Not only had the Greeley Central freshman won the 120-pound championship match at the Northern Colorado Christmas Tournament, but he was still undefeated through 18 matches.First place out of 40 wrestlers and undefeated — as a freshman.
And even though Alirez knew winning the championship at the Budweiser Events Center on Saturday was a great achievement, he also knew it was just a stepping stone toward his ultimate goal.“I want to be an Olympic champion,” Alirez said.
Alirez has been training since he was 4 years old so he could keep moving up in the wrestling world and get closer to his goal. He said going undefeated this season — and for the next three years — is just part of the plan.“It’s a big accomplishment, but I kind of just set out to do it,” Alirez said. “Since I was young, I said I wanted to be an undefeated, four-time state champ.”
Along the way, Alirez has won or placed at several national tournaments and has had help from his father, Andrew Alirez Sr., the whole way. Alirez Sr., who is a volunteer coach for the Wildcats, owns a gym called Top Notch Sports Academy, so his son has pretty much been raised in a gym. He also gets to work with Division I wrestlers who have mentored him since he was young.Alirez Sr. said his son trains seven days a week, often two times a day between Central practices and Top Notch, and he has a good work ethic.
“I am so proud of him,” Alirez Sr. said. “He’s the hardest worker I know. … He’s a gifted wrestler and he’s always been. He’s won multiple national titles and he continued to improve and get better every year.”Alirez Jr. also trains at Gold Mine Wrestling on Sundays with his personal coach Jim Sanchez, who is a former USA Wrestling teammate of John Smith (two-time Olympic Games champion). He has trained with Sanchez since sixth grade.
“He’s taught my boy a lot, a lot of transitions and scrambling,” Alirez Sr. said. “He’s a great coach, as well as Justin Gonzales and all the Division I coaches that took the time to help him out.”Alirez Jr. has another place he trains, at the Northern Colorado Regional Training Center with University of Northern Colorado coach Troy Nickerson during the offseason.Troy Nickerson is a fabulous coach, and he’s also put a lot of good time into my son,” Alirez Sr. said. “And we’re very thankful for that. He’s got a good support system.”
This past year, Alirez Jr. won the Rocky Mountain Nationals, Monster Match, Big Horn Nationals and Pikes Peak State tournaments. He took fourth at the Tulsa Nationals and fifth at the Fargo Cadet National Championships, receiving All-American honors.Alirez Sr. said in total, his son has won around 15 national titles. But last year, he said his son made a big transition and has become even better.“Before, he always had to rely on his technique and speed ‘cause he lacked a little bit of strength,” Alirez Sr. said. “And now that he’s matured, he’s got it all now. But, he definitely has a lot of room to improve, and he’s a hard worker, so I’m sure that he’ll continue.”
Alirez Jr. said all of the coaching he has between Sanchez, the Central coaching staff and his dad helps him on the mat.“I’ve learned (to) think for myself, but if I can’t see (any moves), that’s when my coaches come in and see if they can see anything for me to do,” he said.Central coach Eric Penfold said the Wildcats’ wrestling room has been tough enough to give Alirez Jr. the workouts that he needs to get tougher, and at the same time, he’s helping his teammates in the process.One of Alirez Jr.’s constant sparing partners is his cousin, sophomore Zeke Alirez, who wrestles at 126. Alirez Sr. had a similar experience back when he was at Central as he and Zeke’s dad, Adam Alirez, wrestled on the same team.
“It’s fun seeing them,” Alirez Sr. said of his son and Zeke. “They’ve been partners for the longest time and (Zeke’s) dad is a great coach, too.”Central senior Chico Trujillo (152) said the addition of Alirez Jr. and his dad along with a couple other wrestlers has helped the team continue to improve.“We kind of look at him and how he wrestles, I think it helps us out,” Trujillo said of his young teammate. “I feel like now would be a pretty good shot at (the state title).”Penfold said Alirez Jr. has a lot of quickness on his feet and most of that has come from Alirez Sr.’s coaching.“His dad’s quick to give credit to other people, but his dad’s been working with him since he was in his mom’s belly,” Penfold said. “Wrestling’s in his blood and just to keep him hungry like (his dad) does is a testament to his dad, his family and to himself.”
Penfold added that as much wrestling as Alirez Jr. has done, it’s a good sign that he’s not burned out and is still hungry.“He has lofty goals, we’re just trying to make sure we’re not getting in his way and we’re putting him through the workouts,” Penfold said. “It’ll be fun to watch and see what he can do.”