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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


Matthew Lapacek makes a comeback to the wrestling ‘matt’

Heather Kelly
Matthew Lapacek picking up his opponent to slam him on the mat.

Two smarties and a gulp of honey before every match and practice is senior and captain wrestler Matthew Lapacek’s secret to placing fourth at the IHSA state wrestling tournament. After Lapacek’s win in the constellation semi-finals against Luke Chrisse from Yorkville, he carried on to place top four in the 190 lbs weight class.

His first time stepping on the mat for his senior season was DGS’s third tournament they participated in prior to the wrestling season was his football season, which came to a quick end due to a fractured back. However, the injury did not discourage him in his final season of wrestling.

Matthew Lapacek walking onto the football field with his teammates and coaches despite him not being able to play. (Laura Duffy )

“At first I didn’t even know I was going to have a wrestling season, so it was huge for me to actually get on the mats in general. It was tough at the start because I was really out of shape; I was kind of weak because I didn’t do anything for months. Also, I was really tight because of my back, so I had to deal with that,” Lapacek said.

Lapacek hurt his back after getting hit at a football practice. However, his injury changed his mindset on life.

“My back changed my perspective on life in general. People always say ‘things can always come fast’ with injuries or stuff but it actually did happen. It changed how I looked at life, that I have to enjoy every moment and every second of everything because you really don’t know how long you have,” Lapacek said.

Lapacek kept himself busy with multiple other hobbies while healing. He enjoyed building legos, fishing, hunting and exploring outside. He also discovered a love for running, and he now runs everyday to get extra cardio in.

Another driving factor that aided in his comeback to the mat was his teammate Mack Piehl. Lapacek and Piehl grew up wrestling together and continued to grow their bond throughout high school. Piehl watched him put in the work at the beginning of this wrestling season and rooted him on.

“Matt’s a leader, so he tried to stay motivated, we also tried to help him out the best we could. At the start of the year he was just on the bike in the room just trying to get cardio because he couldn’t wrestle. And even still sometimes in practices he would have to sit out because of his back because it would hurt too much,” Piehl said

Lapacek not only shows his leadership skills through sports, he is also involved in many clubs at DGS. He is in National Honors Society, National Technical Honors Society, blue crew, athletes committed to excellence and the P.E. leading program. Lapacek is also a role model for the other athletes in head varsity wrestling coach Sean Lovelace’s wrestling program at DGS, as he has only missed one practice and has almost won 100 varsity matches.

“He’s a leader on and off the mat and most certainly in the classroom, as he has a 4.26 GPA. I have three of my own boys and I feel so grateful that they had the opportunity to look up to a young man like Matty for the past four years. I am sad that Matty’s time with the wrestling program has come to an end but I am so excited for him and his future and the impact that he will have on the world and those around him,” Lovelace said.

The villages of Downers Grove and Woodridge have recognized Lapacek for his leadership in the community and for his All-State finish by dedicating March 4 as “Matty Lapacek Day.”

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