David Makupson gears up for next challenges

David Makupson of Trinity reacts to winning the Class 2-A state title at 138 pounds during the past season in a match vs. Will Nix of Bandys. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

Trinity’s state champion built powerful prep career

TRINITY — In order for Trinity’s David Makupson to become a high school state champion in wrestling, he took a path of nonstop pursuit of that goal.

He thought he worked hard to attain that. Now, he’s aiming even higher.

“I just know I have to work that much harder if I want to be on the D-I level,” Makupson said. “I got a good feel on how that next level is going to be.”

Makupson is heading to Queens University of Charlotte after a stellar high school career that was capped with a 138-pound title in Class 2-A.

“He kind of set the standard for what we’re looking for,” Trinity coach Brandon Coggins said. “He’s leaving his mark.”

A 178-21 career record left him short of the school-record 200 wins set by 2017 graduate Tyler Johnson. Makupson likely would have eclipsed the mark had the 2020-21 season not been shortened because of the reconfigured North Carolina High School Athletic Association’s sports calendar during the pandemic.

Makupson, who turned 18 years old in June, did this while lettering in five sports at Trinity. He said he knew wrestling was the sport that allowed him to flourish the most.

But he received all-conference recognition as a football player, playing as a running back, slot receiver, and outside linebacker. At 5-foot-6, he took a fearless approach to the football field.

“Really not being scared to hit somebody,” he said, noting that his quickness also was an asset.

When the pandemic caused an adjusted sports schedule during his junior year, he added cross country and swimming (though the track and field season conflicted with wrestling). His spot on the swimming team in the 50-yard freestyle might have caught some people off guard.

“My dad (David Makupson Jr.) kind of forced me to do it,” he said.

The workload and variety of sports might have made an impression on others, but it didn’t faze Makupson.

“I don’t really see it,” he said. “I just went out there and did it.”

This spring, he became the Piedmont Athletic Conference champion in the 800 meters and took part in Trinity’s league-winning 3,200 relay.

Grappling greatness

The running success came a couple of months after securing that coveted wrestling title. He had the confidence to go with it.

“Go out there and dominate because nobody can keep up with me,” he said. “I had one mission, to go out there and win it all, and that’s what I did. I’ve been preparing since I first got started since I was 5. It was my dream to win one. Just so happened I got it my senior year. It had been a long time coming.”

Trinity’s David Makupson has a grip on Will Nix of Bandys. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

Makupson dominated Will Nix of Bandys with a 10-0 decision in the final after two other major decisions sandwiched around a second-period pin to reach the title bout in February at the Greensboro Coliseum.

All along, the key for Makupson was “being physical in neutral positions and being heavy on the hips” when on top,” he said.

“It really comes down to mental toughness and conditioning,” Makupson said. “I think what won me most of the matches was just wearing guys down.”

His only loss as a senior came in a season-opening tournament by a 7-4 decision to Rolesville’s Frank Bianco in the finals of the Wolverine Challenge. 

“It was really a down-to-earth moment,” Makupson said of the defeat. “To this day, I still think about that one loss.”

By February, Makupson held a 54-1 record.

“Just getting my mind right and going through all the preparation,” he said. “There was going to be pressure being ranked No. 1 (in the weight division) before the season started.”

He placed fourth in the two previous state tournaments. That included defeating Nix in the opening round of the 2021 version.

“I needed to work harder,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to get fourth again.”

Coggins said he’s glad that Makupson is going to have the chance to compete at the Division I level. Queens made the move to Division I this summer.

Makupson chose Queens ahead of Division II Belmont Abbey.

The wrestler said he’ll likely redshirt during the 2022-23 season. Then Makupson said he’ll attempt to take a spot in the Queens lineup at 133 pounds. 

“He fills out pretty good,” Coggins said.

There figures to be no challenge too large for him.

“The main thing I’m really focused on is getting adjusted to the college level,” Makupson said.

By Bob Sutton