Winning it all motivates state champs Makupson, Roberts, Hernandez

Trinity’s David Makupson, top, controls Will Nix of Bandys in the Class 2-A 138-pound final Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

GREENSBORO – Contending for state championships in years past was part of the motivation for Trinity’s David Makupson and Uwharrie Charter Academy’s Grayson Roberts.

Experiencing the winning feeling again was part of the quest for UCA’s Aldo Hernandez.

All three wrestlers ended up as titlists Saturday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Makupson, a senior, put together a dominating four-match run through the 138-pound division in Class 2-A, winning the states after fourth-place finishes in each of the past two years.

“Fourth place back-to-back years, that really motivated me to work harder,” Makupson said. “Because I realized what I was doing wasn’t enough. In my head, I thought I was working hard enough. When I didn’t see the outcomes I wanted, that really got me going.”

He got moving to such a level that he couldn’t be stopped during the three-day meet.

Makupson opened the tournament with an 11-0 decision against West Caldwell’s Rakeem Smith. He next notched a second-period fall against North Pitt’s Jayvion Perry. Then came a pair of major decisions, first handling East Carteret’s Shane Hatfield by 13-1 in the semifinal and then controlling Bandys’ Will Nix by 10-0 in the final.

“Not letting him score any points, just dominating the whole match, just staying in control,” said Makupson, who finished the season with a 50-1 record. “Just pace myself because I already knew I had a better gas tank than he did.”

Both of the UCA champions are juniors, each needing three victories in Class 1-A.

“Getting third two years in a row really, really hurt,” Roberts said. “Motivation. Always motivated.”

Roberts, a 160-pounder, won the final with a 7-5 decision against Union Academy’s Isaac Williams in a rematch of an East Regional final a week earlier. Roberts won that previous matchup by 10-3.

“This felt amazing,” Roberts said. “I was still unsatisfied with my finals performance. I felt I could tighten things up. I’ll just come back next year better.”

Roberts (48-4) never trailed, but Williams pulled even at 5-5 in the third period because of a point awarded when Roberts was called for stalling. Roberts immediately secured the winning takedown.

In earlier rounds, Roberts pinned Elkin’s Adrian Rodriguez in 2:33 and flattened Avery County’s Bradley Parker in 2:49.

Hernandez was the Class 3-A champion at 120 last year while competing for Montgomery Central. He moved to 132 this season.

“It does feel like there’s more pressure on you during the season,” he said. “I feel like everyone is trying to wrestle you their best.”

Hernandez (49-3) never went the distance in his three matches, beginning with a pin in 1:57 of Mount Airy’s John Alex Cox. Then came a pair of technical falls while allowing just one point. The semifinal with Bradford Prep’s Lucas Ellis ended in 3:17 and then the title bout with Alleghany’s Bryson Church was done in 2:22 with Hernandez rolling up a 15-0 score.

“The plan was to go out there and score points,” Hernandez said. “The game plan was to take him down and then get to work on top.”

UCA was third in the Class 1-A team standings behind Avery County and Robbinsville.

Trinity placed ninth in Class 2-A. Bandys was the team champion.

By Bob Sutton