- Brandon Cain
Isaias Torres rises through Beat the Streets to state medalist honors
The Grand Street Campus wrestler, who started with BTS in junior high, is looking to finish his high school career with a state title.
Isaias Torres made a connection eight years ago that changed his life.
Torres attended a Beat the Streets junior high jamboree in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood with his parents and met Grand Street Campus wrestling coach Stephen Perez. Little did Torres know that meeting would help mold him into the person he is today. “My whole life has been based off Beat the Streets,” Torres said. “I was raised off Beat the Streets ever since like the fourth grade. It got me better academically, taught me life lessons and so much more. Wrestling unites everything together.” In middle school, Torres joined Perez’s GSC team for practice and started to see what it would take to improve his wrestling skills from high school student-athletes. Being in the GSC practice room helped Torres reach his goal of becoming a state champion in middle school and set the stage for his high school career. “There were so many (wrestlers) that he was looking up to when he came to our practices,” Perez said. “He made that connection (and thought,) ‘this is where I want to be. I want to be part of this wrestling room because this wrestling room has the most intensity.’”
Despite his family moving to Queens, Torres insisted on attending GSC. The near hour-long commute to school doesn’t bother him because GSC is home to him.
Torres earned a spot in the New York City championship as a freshman then captured a city title the next year. Earlier this year, he took his wrestling to another level and earned seventh place at the New York State Public High School Athletic Association championships.
Due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Torres and GSC were unable to practice in their wrestling room. He turned to the weight room to increase his strength and did sprints to improve his conditioning and endurance to wear down opponents later in matches.
Torres also studied his past matches and matches from the best guys in the country to boost his wrestling IQ. He then took his newfound knowledge to the mat. He traveled with Beat the Streets director of youth programming Penn Gottfried and Perez to Long Island and areas of upstate New York to compete against some of the most talented wrestlers in the state and Connecticut.
Gottfried and Perez shared a group text message to coordinate rides as well as offer advice and support to Torres. Those car rides also were more than just trips to wrestling practices; they gave him an opportunity to talk about what was going on in his life amid the pandemic.
“They are probably the reason why I strived so much last year because they just pushed me so much,” Torres said.
Torres has set his eyes on improving his podium finish at the state tournament. He sees his goal every day - be a state champion - which he wrote on his whiteboard in his room. He also has bigger ambitions of winning Virginia Beach nationals next spring, and believes Perez and Beat the Streets have helped put him in a position to attain his goals and more.
“Beat the Streets is deeper than wrestling,” Torres said. “I feel like wrestling is just the foundation that Beat the Streets has. Words can’t describe what Beat the Streets has done for me.
“I wouldn’t be here without Beat the Streets.”
Since being founded in 2005, BTS has pioneered a movement that now includes 150 individual wrestling programs, a youth league and the first girls high school league.
To help BTS continue to provide a positive impact on New York City youth like Isaias, please donate to the Year-End campaign today.