By MIKE SMITH
In 2012, New Rochelle’s Malcolm Allen accepted an at-large bid to the New York State high school wrestling tournament, bucked the odds and walked away from the competition as the top heavyweight in the state.
Last month, wrestling for Iowa Central Community College at the NJCAA Division III national championships, Allen again defied the odds, entering the tournament as a low seed and coming within a few seconds of capturing a national title. Though the end result might have been disappointing, Allen’s performance this year makes it a certainty he will continue to shine at the collegiate level.
Allen, wrestling at 285 pounds, had a stellar regular season, going 27-7 and qualifying for the national tournament held in Spokane, Wash.
He won his first three matches at nationals, all by decision, before taking on Dequence Goodman of Lincoln College, Ill., in the finals. Heading into the final minutes of the match, Allen was ahead on points, but a late—and controversial—takedown by Goodman swung the match in the Lincoln wrestler’s favor.
“With about 14 seconds left, the kid scored a takedown but we thought he had stepped out of bounds,” said ICCC head coach Luke Moffitt. “The referees took a look at the replay, but didn’t look hard enough. It’s hard to take, but what can you do?”
Moffitt praised Allen’s performance in the final match, saying the New Rochellean’s agressiveness of a match sets him apart from most other wrestlers.
“A lot of guys, they put on their running shoes when they’re ahead, but Malcolm listened to us and wrestled to win the entire match,” Moffitt said. “If he didn’t, he would have given up a point anyway for stalling.”
Despite Allen entering the tournament as a sixth seed, his coach, Moffitt, had no doubt in his mind that his second-year charge had the talent to vie for a national crown.
“In my opinion, he was the best wrestler in that tournament,” Moffitt said.
Since joining the team in 2012, Allen has made great strides as a wrestler. Last season, he finished with an 11-6 record, but was wrestling behind a teammate who went on to take fourth at the national tournament. This year, said Moffitt, Allen was able to combine his physical skills and newfound maturity to become a force in the 285-pound division.
“I think he bought into our system, and it’s rare to have a wrestler that trusts you so much,” said the head coach. “He worked harder, added some new things to his style half-way through the year and did everything about 10 times better.”
Current New Rochelle wrestling head coach, Eddie Ortiz, who was an assistant under long-time Huguenot coach Jim Guccione when Allen donned the purple and white, said he was keeping tabs on the national tournament from his cellphone.
“It really gave us tremendous satisfaction to see him succeed like that,” Ortiz said. “We all knew how much ability he had, so we were obviously checking in through the tournament, hoping for the best.”
Though Allen will be graduating from Iowa Central in May, Moffitt said he is sure to catch on with a four-year college and continue his wrestling career. Given his showing this winter, said Moffitt, wrestling fans haven’t heard the last of Allen’s name.
“After the match, I just told him this wasn’t the end of the road,” Moffit said. “He’s going to find another school, and we reassured him that eventually, he’s going to win a national championship.”