State Spotlight: Lyons Senior Wrestler Matt Nora
What a difference a year makes.
Nine senior starters on the Lyons Township wrestling team, more like brothers than teammates, are counting down the days until the end of their high school wrestling careers.
In the fourth of a series, this column highlights team captain, Matthew Nora.
This time last year, Matt Nora experienced the low-point in his wrestling career. He was a highly-ranked junior, wrestling great, and looking forward to a run at the state title. A leg injury in a match on January 23, 2010 changed everything for him.
Instead of wrestling in February with his teammates, he was walking on crutches. His supportive presence was felt at each of the post-season competitions, but it was almost painful as a fan, to see him with the team but unable to compete.
As Matt went through rehab and returned to wrestling in the off-season, he seemed to double his focus and effort. He did not play his beloved football last fall so he could put more effort into off season conditioning.
That work ethic has paid off! After placing third in the State tournament on Saturday, Matt's record so far this senior season is a fantastic 44-3!
When Matt's mom, Joanne, signed him up for the Lions Kids Wrestling Club as a third grader, she "didn't know anything about wrestling." She did it because she didn't like seeing him on the couch playing video games after school. He immediately took to the sport like the proverbial duck to water! Matt made state as an eighth grader, earned a spot on the varsity team as a freshman, and seems to have never looked back.
A superb student and senior class board president, Matt is a bright and analytical guy. Like a master chess player, he always seems to be two or three moves ahead of his wrestling opponents. In the midst of a challenging match, he has an uncanny ability to solve problems on the fly.
The best wrestlers in the state have found him a tough puzzle to solve this season. While shaking his hand at the outset of the match, I have watched so many opponents view Matt with a mix of awe and foreboding.
What a difference a year makes! Matt's parents, siblings, and large extended family were on hand for the high point of his career, achieving third place in the state tournament. There is no question that they are proud. Joanne puts it in perspective though: "Wrestling has been a great sport for Matt. But it is only part of the package. I am proud of him for so many reasons..."
Yes, Joanne, so am I!