Khaled Dassan of Yonkers pins New Rochelle’s Cedrice Palliant in 4:51 during 285 pound wrestling match at New Rochelle High School Jan. 22, 2015.
NEW ROCHELLE – In a split second, Yonkers’ emotions went from devastation to exhilaration.
Trailing league rival New Rochelle by two points heading into the final match of its dual meet on Thursday, Khaled Dassan was put to his back by Cedrice Palliant. A pin would have ended the match emphatically and sealed a win for the Huguenots, but Dassan found a way to slip out before both shoulders hit the mat.
“It’s nothing new,” said Dassan, who was in a similar situation on Saturday at the Kohl Invitational before rallying for a pin in the finals. “My mental toughness gets me through a lot of matches.”
Dassan immediately reversed Palliant and quickly finished him with a pin, giving Yonkers a wild 35-31 win and causing its bench to erupt.
“I like to see (coach) Pete (Vulpone) happy, so it’s a great feeling for me,” Dassan said. “As long as he’s happy, I’m happy because he does a lot for everybody — and not only for us, but for all of Section 1.”
After dropping the first two matches, New Rochelle won four straight from 113-132 pounds.
“That’s the heart of our team,” New Ro coach Eddie Ortiz said. “They do the right things, day in and day out, so we’re confident every time that they go on the mat – regardless of who they’re wrestling. We know that they’re going to be scrappy, they’re going to work to score points and they’re the example of the program right now.”
Wins from All-Section returners Jake Shore (113 pounds), Moises Tera (120) and Jordan Wallace (132) came as no surprise, but eighth-grader Jake Logan showed that he may be a star in the making.
Logan upset junior David Ortiz, who is the top seed at 126 pounds for the upcoming Westchester County Championships, with a 5-1 decision.
“We’re confident when he steps on the mat that he can wrestle with anybody in the weight at 126,” Ortiz said. “He’s that type of kid, and he’s very talented. He’s got a bright future. It’s definitely a shock in the sense of what (Ortiz) has done, but it wasn’t a shock to us.”
The Huguenots led 19-10 after Wallace’s pin, but the Bulldogs won five of the next six — Fredy Guevara (138), Christian Zaccaro (145), Jason Olmedo (160), Elieser Maldonado (170) and Steven Garcia (182) — to take a 29-22 lead.
“I’ve been slacking lately, but I’m fixing stuff,” Maldonado said. “It’s small mistakes. I lost to (Mamaroneck’s) Roger (Ransom) twice and I’ve been losing, but I’m trying to fix that. I want to be a section champ this year.”
After rejoining the team last week, New Rochelle’s returning section finalist Demetrius Rodriguez didn’t show any rust with a 28-second pin at 195 pounds.
“He’s got to do a lot,” Ortiz said. “He’s got to work his tail off, like everybody else. He’s got to be at practice every day, he’s got to be focused and he’s got a lot of ground to make up, for sure.”
Dan Mendoza seized the lead back for the Huguenots with a 3-1 decision over Joe Marji at 220, but Dassan’s pin gave Yonkers a win over New Rochelle for the second consecutive season after years of getting pushed around by its rival.
“We came a long way,” Maldonado said. “Everybody steps up, and we just keep getting better. Our team is talented.”