For Mepham’s Louis Hernandez, stepping onto the wrestling mat had become second nature. Hernandez had been cruising undefeated through his junior season last year before stepping into the gym at MacArthur. He left that Conference IV-A dual meet with a blemish on his record after being pinned by Mike Marrero in 3:40.
It was the last loss Hernandez would suffer before going on another dominant run that culminated with a 2013 New York State championship at 145 pounds.
Hernandez was back in the same gym on Friday night as his team wrestled the Generals in a key dual meet, and the thoughts of that loss were in the back of his mind.
"There was definitely extra motivation today," Hernandez said after his team dropped the dual meet 56-17 to MacArthur. "I just wanted to go out there and wrestle tough for myself and my team in front of MacArthur to show -- no spite -- but to show that last year was a good win for their kid but I've been training and those losses stay in my head."
Hernandez came out and took care of business, winning by technical fall in 4:30.
Earlier in the season, Hernandez suffered another rare defeat, losing by disqualification at the Eastern States Classic tournament upstate. Despite the early loss, Hernandez tore through the wrestle back bracket to finish third. Hernandez hasn’t forgotten about that loss either.
"It’s 100 percent motivation,” he said. “I needed something like that and it was the same as last year when I got pinned. It sparked a fire in me. The DQ and the pin last year were both just me relaxing and slipping up for a second. Those instances show that I have to be intense at all times and make no mistakes. Wrestling is a sport of no mistakes and staying clean, that’s what it’s about.”
With a reinvigorated focus added to his immense physical skills, Hernandez is ready for the postseason.
“A match like that shows that you’re vulnerable at any point and at any time and that’s why you want to keep training hard,” he said. “No matter who you’re wrestling to go hard every single match.”