Photo: Sam Janicki

NCAA champion Alirez staying at Northern Colorado

NCAA champion Andrew Alirez is staying home.

On Tuesday, the Greeley, Colorado native announced that he is staying at Northern Colorado after entering the transfer portal. His announcement came via a video posted on social media. Northern Colorado followed it up with a press release announcing Alirez's return while promoting season tickets.

"I wanted to take a moment to express my deepest gratitude to each and every member of the University of Northern Colorado program for their unwavering support and dedication through the years," said Alirez. "Your tireless efforts have not only made this re-signing possible but have also paved the way for my continued growth and success for years to come. The University of Northern Colorado has become more than just a place of education and athletics; It's a family. Thank you for embracing me with open arms, for believing in my potential, and for providing me with the tools and opportunities to excel on and off the mat. I am honored and privileged to be a part of such a loyal team, and I look forward to representing the Bears with pride and determination for years to come."

Alirez won the NCAA title at 141 pounds in 2023, becoming Northern Colorado's first national champion in the modern wrestler era. He finished the season with a perfect 28-0 record and was a finalist for the Hodge Trophy. Alirez is a three-time NCAA qualifier and two-time Big 12 champion.

He took an Olympic redshirt this past season in attempt to earn a spot on the 2024 U.S. Olympic team at 65 kilograms. Alirez won gold at the Poland Open last summer, picking up a win over three-time world champion Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan. At the Olympic Team Trials, Alirez defeated Penn State's Beau Bartlett to reach the semifinals of the challenge tournament before losing to Nick Lee.