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Jesse Mendez tops Andrew Alirez in battle of NCAA champions at 2024 Beat the Streets Annual Benefit

BTS high school student-athletes Isabella Lorenzana and Evin Gursoy each won a freestyle bout against top-flight opponents.

In a much-anticipated bout between the last two Division 1 NCAA champions at 141 pounds, Ohio State's Jesse Mendez outlasted Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez in a tight, 4-1, freestyle contest Tuesday at Ziegfeld Ballroom, the site of the 2024 Beat the Streets Annual Benefit.

The two haven’t faced one another previously, which appeared evident in a match that presented itself as a feeling out process for potential high-caliber battles to come next college season and beyond.

Mendez took a 1-0 lead to the break thanks to an activity time point. Alirez returned the favor in the early stages of the second frame to knot things up, 1-1. Mendez opened the offensive scoring by driving Alirez off the mat, picking up a step out point and a 2-1 advantage. The Buckeye iced the match at the buzzer by countering an Alirez desperation attempt for an additional two points.

Both Alirez and Mendez were top performers at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials at 65 kg and boast elite freestyle chops. Mendez earned a silver medal at last year’s U20 World Championships and holds the No. 4 rank on the U.S. Senior National Team. Alirez was a NCAA champion in 2023 at 141 pounds, while Mendez took the same honor in 2024.

In addition to the NCAA champions bout, three high school exhibitions were contested under the freestyle rules set featuring BTS student-athletes against top-flight opponents.

Reigning 16U freestyle national champion and Ohio high school state champion Grey Burnett from Perrysburg, Ohio, picked up a 14-4 technical fall over Oumar Tounkara representing The Bronx, N.Y. Burnett opened up a competitive 6-4 match with a second period takedown-to-lace combination to end the contest early.

New York high school state champions Evin Gursoy from Brooklyn, and Dunia Sibomana-Rodriguez of Long Beach, put together the most exciting match of the evening. Points were aplenty throughout the contest, but it was Gursoy who ultimately found the edge in a 16-6 technical fall win. Gursoy ended the match in the second frame with a takedown-to-gut wrench combination.  

Isabella Lorenzana of Queens made quick work of New Jersey’s Caroline Biegel in the opening bout of the evening between freestyle state medalists in women’s wrestling. Lorenzana engaged with an arm throw and secured a pin right out of the gate, which set the tone for a sensational run-of-show in The Big Apple.

The Annual Benefit has served as a significant fundraising event for BTS each year for 14 years. The organization noted on its website it raised more than $650,000 at this year’s event, with funds directly supporting BTS on its mission to make a lifelong impact on New York City’s urban youth through wrestling.

Those unable to attend the event in person may still make a general contribution to BTS at

(Photo by Justin Hoch)

Exhibition Match Results

Jesse Mendez (Ohio State) dec. Andrew Alirez (Northern Colorado), 4-1

Grey Burnett (Perrysburg, Ohio) tech. fall Oumar Tounkara (The Bronx, N.Y.), 14-4

Evin Gursoy (Brooklyn, N.Y.) tech. fall Dunia Sibomana-Rodriguez (Long Beach, N.Y.), 16-6

Isabella Lorenzana (Queens, N.Y.) fall Caroline Biegel (DePaul Catholic, N.J.)



Since being founded in 2005, Beat the Streets has pioneered a movement that now includes 150 individual wrestling programs, a youth league and the first girls high school league.


BTS works to develop the full human and athletic potential of New York City urban youth and strengthen the city's wrestling culture. We aim to make a lifelong impact on student-athletes through the lessons learned on the wrestling mat -- discipline, perseverance, self-reliance, humility and a strong work ethic. Discover how you can make a meaningful contribution to our work at 



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