Zupan Has A Passion For Triathlons - The Missourian: Sports

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Zupan Has A Passion For Triathlons

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Posted: Saturday, June 21, 2014 12:00 pm

By Jason Peake

Missourian Sports Writer

Matt Zupan was hooked from the start.

From the first time he competed in a triathlon, Zupan knew the grueling endurance event was just his thing.

What others see as extreme or nearly impossible, Zupan sees as exhilarating and satisfying.

“I fell in love with the competition,” he recalled.

A decade after he first gave it a try, the 18-year-old former Washington resident who now lives in Wildwood has a strong passion for competing in arguably the toughest single athletic event out there, the triathlon, which features swimming, cycling and running in succession.

“You can tell it really lights a fire in him,” Matt’s mother Lori Zupan said. “He lives for the races.”

And he’s having success, too. Earlier this month Zupan took first place in his age division at the 2014 USA Triathlon Long Course National Championships in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Zupan took first place in the 19-and-under division of the Half-Iron Triathlon, finishing in 4:48.33.  

His 1.2-mile swim took just over 32 minutes, while he finished the 56-mile cycling event in about 2 1/2 hours. He completed the final 13.1-mile run in just over an hour and 42 minutes. The second-place finisher was 16 minutes behind Zupan. For winning his age division, Zupan received a medal and a T-shirt that reads, “National Champion.” That’s not all. With the win Zupan qualified to compete in the world championships next summer in Sweden.

“That will be fun,” he said. “I have to talk to my mom about it, but I think I’m going to go.”

While other kids his age are obsessed with baseball, football, basketball or soccer, Zupan chose a different outlet for his athletic endeavors.

So how did Zupan end up competing in triathlons?

Call it a desire to compete — against others and against himself. And for a time, he didn’t have many other options.

When Zupan enrolled at Heritage Classical Christian Academy just outside of St. Louis several years ago he came to a realization. The school has no athletic programs. With that, Zupan found his own athletic challenges outside of school in the form of triathlons.

“I was looking for something athletic outside of school,” he recalled. “I thought triathlons would be fun.”

Zupan had remembered competing in one back when he was just a little guy in Washington.

Matt, the son of Lori and the late Dr. Andrew Zupan, along with sisters Sydney and Caroline, lived in Washington for several years, first arriving when Matt was 5 years old. Although they moved away about three years ago, it was Washington where Matt competed in his first mini-triathlon.

“I was really young, 7 or 8,” Matt recalled. “My twin sister (Sydney) did it, too. It was a small one put on by the YMCA and we crossed the line together holding hands. It was a lot of fun to finish.”

He never forgot that feeling.

Zupan really got into triathlons when he was a freshman in high school when organized team sports were out of the question.

“I’ve been doing them regularly ever since,” he said. “And you meet a lot of people and everyone is always really nice. And I have a love of running. That’s my favorite aspect of it. I’d say the running is probably the toughest part, though.”

If anyone has ever watched or attempted a triathlon or Iron Man competition, they surely know it’s not easy to do. Simply put, it takes a lot of endurance, strength and willpower to finish one.

To get prepared for the long, strenuous event, Zupan works out often.

“I try and do around 15-20 hours a week of training, but it was less during the school year,” Zupan said. “In the summer, I try to do more than that. I do a lot of swimming, biking and running. That’s what I do — I swim, bike, and run.”

Completing a triathlon isn’t easy. It could be described as painful.

“It’s brutal,” Zupan said. “By the time I get off the bike my legs are pretty dead. And then you still have a really long run ahead of you.”

So what keeps Zupan motivated throughout the process?

“I just try to think about the finish and how good it will feel to finish,” he said. “I think about my mom and how much time, effort and money she’s spent to help me. I never want to let her down by not finishing. So I think about that, too. And I just think about how hard I’ve trained. I know if I’ve had some tough workouts I should be able to finish.”

Zupan has traveled all over the Midwest to participate in various events. And he’s had a lot of success and some memorable experiences, too.

For example, he signed up for an event in Ohio that featured a marathon 26.2-mile run. He usually competes in the events that include a run of between 10-13 miles.

“I had not trained that much for it either,” he said with a laugh. “I didn’t think I’d finish. But then I actually met someone else from St. Louis while I was running. We started talking during the race and now we’re friends. It was the easiest run I had because we were just talking to each other almost the whole time, about 22 miles.”

Zupan recently competed in Tennessee and of course, he won the event in Michigan. Zupan admitted some of his friends question why he’d want to put his body through such punishment.

“Some of them think I’m absolutely crazy or just nuts,” Zupan said laughing.

Other friends have admitted they’re pretty impressed.

Matt’s mother Lori is his biggest fan.

Lori admitted she and her late husband had some reservations about the triathlons when their son first showed an interest. There was a concern that the pounding his body would take could stunt his growth. An X-ray proved he was done growing. Lori’s been supportive ever since.

“I think he was looking for a challenge,” Lori said. “So we reluctantly agreed. We went along for the ride.”

Lori added it’s been fun to see her son put forth a big effort toward something and then have his hard work pay off.

“He works really hard at it and he really enjoys it,” she said. “It’s nice to see a kid his age find something they’re passionate about. He’s had some success and it’s been a lot of fun for the family to follow along.”

Matt has now graduated from high school and he’ll attend Pepperdine University in California in the fall.

Matt said no matter where he lives, triathlons will continue to be a big part of his life.

He was hooked from the start. And he doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon.

“I think it’s something I can do throughout my lifetime,” he said. “That’s something else that appeals to me about the sport. You never really have to give it up. Hopefully I’ll do them as long as I can.”

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Area Scoreboard

Washington Post 218 Senior Legion Tournament

Pools

Pool A — St. Charles 3-1, Manchester 3-1, Jefferson City 2-2, Union 1-3, Columbia 1-3

Pool B — Ballwin 4-0, Thoman Boothe 3-1, SEMO 2-2, Washington 1-3, New Haven 0-4

Pool Games

At Ronsick Field Unless Noted

Wednesday, June 15

St. Charles 9, Manchester 8

Thoman Boothe 5, Washington 4

St. Charles 3, Union 2

SEMO 16, New Haven 0

Thursday, June 16

Washington 11, New Haven 1

St. Charles 3, Jefferson City 2

Ballwin 9, Thoman Boothe 1

Union 7, Columbia 2

Friday, June 17

Jefferson City 10, Union 0

Ballwin 12, New Haven 2

Manchester 8, Columbia 6

SEMO 6, Washington 1

Saturday, June 18

At Ronsick Field

Thoman Boothe 4, New Haven 0

Thoman Boothe 4, SEMO 3

Manchester 8, Columbia 6

Ballwin 3, Washington 2

At Borgia

Manchester 7, Union 3

Manchester 2, Jefferson City 1

Jefferson City 3, Columbia 1

Columbia 4, St. Charles 1

Sunday, June 19

Semifinal 1 — St. Charles 7, Thoman Boothe 3

Semifinal 2 — Manchester 3, Ballwin 1

Championship — Manchester 9, St. Charles 1

Washington Post 218 Seniors

5-31    *Washington 15, St. Clair 2

6-1    Washington 7, Eureka 3

6-2    *Washington 13, West 0

6-4    #Washington 13, Chillicothe 1

6-4    #Washington 10, Sedalia 7

6-5    #Washington 11, Fike 3

6-5    #Washington 3, Jefferson City 2

6-7    *Washington 15, Pacific 0

6-8    *Washington 16, Sullivan 2

6-9    *Washington 15, St. Charles 2

6-10    Washington 10, Festus 0

6-11    *Washington 24, St. Clair 0

6-12    *Washington 10, O’Fallon 3

6-15    $Thoman Boothe 5, Washington 4

6-16    $Washington 11, New Haven 1

6-17    $SEMO 6, Washington 1

6-18    $Ballwin 3, Washington 2

6-22    *New Haven    PPD

6-24    Manchester    7 p.m.

6-25    *Elsberry    6 p.m.

6-26    at De Soto    6 p.m.

6-28    *at Wentzville    8 p.m.

6-29    *Warrenton    8:30 p.m.

6-30    *at New Haven    7 p.m.

7-1    *St. Peters    7 p.m.

7-2    *at Union    noon

7-3    *Owensville    3:30 p.m.

7-6    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-7    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-8    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-9    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-10    at Blue Springs Tny    TBA

7-14    District Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

# Sedalia Tournament

$ Washington Tournament

Washington Post 218 Juniors

5-26    Washington 9, Thoman Boothe 1

5-27    #Washington 11, Ballwin 1

5-28    #Washington 7, Highland, Ill., 1

5-29    #Washington 7, Union 2

5-29    #Jefferson City 1, Washington 0

6-3    *Washington 14, St. Clair 1

6-4    *Washington 7, O'Fallon 1

6-5    *Washington 8, Hannibal 5

6-5    Washington 6, Alton, Ill. 3

6-7    *Washington 13, Pacific 3

6-9    *Washington 4, St. Charles 1

6-12    *Washington 7, Elsberry 4

6-18   Belleville, Ill., 4, Washington 3

6-18   Washington 13, Belleville, Ill., 1

6-21   *Washington 10, Warrenton 3

6-22    Washington 8, Festus 2

6-24    *at New Haven    6 p.m.

6-25    *Wentzville    3:30 p.m.

6-26    *Union    1 p.m.

6-27    *at Sullivan    6 p.m.

6-28    Manchester (DH)    6 p.m.

6-29    at St. Clair    8 p.m.

7-2    at Festus (DH)    noon

7-5    District Tournament    TBA

* Ninth District Games

# Post 218 Memorial Weekend Tournament

Washington Post 218 Freshmen

5-19    #Washington 3, Ballwin 0

5-20    #Washington 7, Manchester 5

5-21    #Washington 8, New Haven 3

5-22    #Washington 13, Ballwin 2

5-25    *Sullivan 3, Washington 2

5-25    *Washington 14, Sullivan 2

5-26    *Washington 13, Union 0

5-31    *Washington 14, St. Clair 0

6-2    *Washington 10, Wentzville 4

6-4    *Washington 3, Hannibal 0

6-4    *St. Clair 5, Washington 2

6-7    *Washington 5, St. Charles 0

6-8    *Washington 10, St. Peters 0

6-12    *Washington 9, St. Charles 5

6-13    *Washington 10, St. Peters 0

6-14    *Washington 11, New Haven 1

6-14    *Washington 11, Union 1

6-16    *Washington 8, Rosebud 4

6-18    *Washington 11, Pacific 0

6-18    *Washington 14, Pacific 0

6-21    *Washington 4, Rosebud 2

6-24    *at New Haven    8 p.m.

6-25    *Elsberry    1 p.m.

6-29    *Warrenton    6 p.m.

7-1    District Tournament    TBA

* Ninth District Games

# Washington Tournament Games

Union Post 297 Seniors

5-31    *Union 4, Warrenton 0

6-1    *St. Clair 6, Union 3

6-2    *Pacific 6, Union 5

6-4    *Elsberry 5, Union 2

6-6    *New Haven 11, Union 7

6-8    *Union 16, West 0

6-15    ^St. Charles 3, Union 2

6-16    ^Union 7, Columbia 2

6-17    ^Jefferson City 10, Union 0

6-18    ^Manchester 7, Union 3

6-21    *Union 16, St. Peters 0

6-22    *O'Fallon 3, Union 2

6-25    *at St. Charles    noon

6-27    *at St. Clair    6 p.m.

6-29    *Sullivan    5:30 p.m.

7-1    *at Warrenton    5:30 p.m.

7-2    *Washington    noon

7-6-10    at Blue Springs Wood Bat Tny    TBA

7-12    Ninth Distirct Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

^Washington Tournament

Union Post 297 Juniors

5-25    PPD at Farmington

5-26    #Union 2, Eureka 1

5-29    #Jefferson City 15, Union 5

5-30    #Washington 7, Union 2

6-2    *Union 5, Warrenton 4

6-4    *Elsberry 10, Union 7

6-4    *Elsberry 6, Union 2

6-5    *Union 9, St. Clair 8

6-7    Union 13, Manchester 4

6-11    *Union 9, St. Charles 8

6-11    *Union 4, St. Charles 3

6-12    *Sullivan 13, Union 0

6-12    *Union 2, Hannibal 1

6-15    *Union 7, St. Clair 1

6-16    *Union 11, New Haven 4

6-18    &Illinois Stix 5, Union 1

6-18    &Union 7, ECI M80s 5

6-19    &Macon Co Jokers 12, Union 1

6-19    &Union 9, Gamers 0

6-22    *O'Fallon 8, Union 1

6-24    *Wentzville    5:30 p.m.

6-25    Farmington (DH)    1 p.m.

6-26    *at Washington    1 p.m.

6-28    *Warrenton    6 p.m.

6-30    *at Sullivan    6 p.m.

7-2    *Pacific    10 a.m.

7-5    Ninth District Tny    TBA

7-23    All-Star Game, Elsberry    4 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

Union Post 297 Freshmen

5-19 #New Haven 15, Union 4

5-20 #Eureka 8, Union 5

5-22 #Manchester 7, Union 3

5-24   Eureka 9, Union 2

5-26    *Washington 13, Union 0

5-31    *Wentzville 6, Union 2

6-2    *St. Charles 21, Union 10

6-4    *Hannibal 12, Union 6

6-5    *St. Clair 10, Union 0

6-9    *Sullivan 11, Union 1

6-11    *Warrenton 3, Union 2

6-11    *Warrenton 14, Union 5

6-12    *St. Peters 8, Union 7

6-12    *St. Peters 12, Union 2

6-14    *Washington 11, Union 1

6-16    *New Haven 1, Union 0

6-23    *Union 22, Pacific 1

6-26    *Rosebud (DH)    noon, 5 p.m.

6-30    *St. Clair    5:30 p.m.

7-5    Ninth District Tny    TBA

7-23    All-Star Game, Elsberry    1 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

Pacific Post 402 Seniors

6-2    *Pacific 6, Union 5

6-3    *at Elsberry    8 p.m.

6-7    *Washington 15, Pacific 0

6-14    *Pacific 2, Sullivan 1

6-14    *Pacific 10, Sullivan 2

6-15    *O'Fallon 6, Pacific 5

6-18    *Pacific 6, West 4

6-22    *Pacific 4, St. Clair 1

6-25    *at St. Clair, 4 p.m.

6-26    *at St. Peters    5 p.m.

6-30    *at Warrenton    5:30 p.m.

7-1    *at St. Charles TBA

*Ninth District Games

Pacific Post 402 Juniors

6-1    *New Haven 5, Pacific 1

6-3    *O'Fallon 5, Pacific 3

6-4    *Warrenton 16, Pacific 9

6-7    *Washington 13, Pacific 3

6-9    *Sullivan 7, Pacific 4

6-11    *Hannibal 13, Pacific 3

6-11    *Elsberry 6, Pacific 0

6-13    *St. Clair    PPD

6-16    *Sullivan 4, Pacific 3

6-23    *St. Charles 9, Pacific 6

6-27    *Wentzville    8 p.m.

6-30    *at St. Clair    8 p.m.

7-2    *at Union    10 a.m.

7-5    Ninth District Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

Pacific Post 402 Freshmen

6-2    *New Haven 14, Pacific 0

6-6    *Wentzville 17, Pacific 16

6-7    *Sullivan 15, Pacific 1

6-13    *Rosebud 22, Pacific 0

6-15    *Elsberry 17, Pacific 2

6-16    *Warrenton def. Pacific (forfeit)

6-18    *Washington 11, Pacific 0

6-18    *Washington 14, Pacific 0

6-21    *St. Charles 13, Pacific 1

6-23    *Union 22, Pacific 1

6-24    *at Hannibal    8 p.m.

6-26    *at St. Peters (DH)    12 p.m.

6-27    *St. Clair    6 p.m.

6-29    *at St. Clair    6 p.m.

7-1    Rosebud    7 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

St. Clair Post 347 Seniors

5-25    *St. Clair 10, West 6

5-31    *Washington 14, St. Clair 2

6-1    *St. Clair 6, Union 3

6-3    *O'Fallon 11, St. Clair 7

6-7    *St. Clair 15, Warrenton 8

6-10    *St. Clair 13, New Haven 11

6-11    *Washington 24, St. Clair 0

6-15    *St. Clair 9, Sullivan 3

6-16    *St. Clair 13, St. Peters 4

6-19    Warrenton 18, St. Clair 6

6-20    Sullivan 16, St. Clair 6

6-22    *Pacific 4, St. Clair 1

6-25    *Pacific    4 p.m.

6-26    *Elsberry    2 p.m.

6-27    *Union    6 p.m.

6-28    *at St. Charles    6 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

St. Clair Post 347 Juniors

6-1    *at Sullivan    7:30 p.m.

6-3    *Washington 14, St. Clair 1

6-5    *Union 9, St. Clair 8

6-7    *Warrenton 10, St. Clair 0

6-8    *New Haven 10, St. Clair 0

6-10    *O’Fallon    6 p.m.

6-12    *St. Clair 8, Wentzville 5

6-13    *at Pacific    PPD

6-15    *Union 7, St. Clair 1

6-16    *Wentzville 10, St. Clair 0

6-18    *Hannibal def. St. Clair twice

6-19    *Warrenton 6, St. Clair 5

6-23    *Sullivan    6 p.m.

6-26    *Elsberry    12 p.m.

6-28    *at St. Charles 8 p.m.

6-29    *Washington    8 p.m.

6-30    Pacific    8 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

St. Clair Post 347 Freshmen

5-23    *Rosebud 6, St. Clair 0

5-24    *St. Charles 10, St. Clair 0

5-31    *Washington 14, St. Clair 0

6-1    *Sullivan 5, St. Clair 1

6-4    *St. Clair 5, Washington 2

6-5    *St. Clair 10, Union 0

6-8    *St. Clair 6, New Haven 4

6-11    *St. Charles 14, St. Clair 2

6-12    *Wentzville 11, St. Clair 2

6-14    *Sullivan 15, St. Clair 13

6-15    *St. Clair 6, Rosebud 2

6-16    *St. Clair 9, St. Peters 7

6-18    *Elsberry 8, St. Clair 1

6-18     Elsberry 10, St. Clair 4

6-19    *Warrenton 5, St. Clair 0

6-23    *St. Clair 9, Wentzville 7

6-27    *at Pacific    6 p.m.

6-29    *Pacific    6 p.m.

6-30    *at Union    5:30 p.m.

* Ninth District Games

New Haven Post 366 Seniors

5-24    *New Haven 5, O'Fallon 3

5-28    *PPD at West

6-6    *New Haven 11, Union 7

6-10    *St. Clair 13, New Haven 11

6-11    *New Haven 10, West 1

6-15    #SEMO 16, New Haven 0

6-16    #Washington 11, New Haven 0

6-17    #Ballwin 12, New Haven 2

6-17    *New Haven 13, Sullivan 3

6-18    #Thoman Boothe 4, New Haven 0

6-19    *New Haven 9, St. Peters 1

6-21    *at Sullivan    8 p.m.

6-22    *at Washington    8:30 p.m.

6-25    *St. Peters    5 p.m.

6-26    *St. Charles    noon

6-27    *at Warrenton    5:30 p.m.

6-28    *Pacific    7 p.m.

6-29    *at Elsberry    8 p.m.

6-30    *Washington    7 p.m.

7-14    Ninth District Tny    TBA

# Washington Tournament

* Ninth District Games    

New Haven Post 366 Juniors

6-1    *New Haven 5, Pacific 1

6-4   New Haven 5, MODO 1

6-4   New Haven 9, Mattoon, Ill. #2 1

6-4   New Haven 5, Charlestown Red 0

6-7    *Wentzville 4, New Haven 2

6-8    *New Haven 10, St. Clair 0

6-12    *Elsberry 4, New Haven 3

6-15    *New Haven 7, Warrenton 2

6-16    *Union 11, New Haven 4

6-18    *St. Charles 8, New Haven 7

6-18    *St. Charles 6, New Haven 5

6-21    *New Haven 4, Sullivan 3

6-22    *Washington    PPD

6-26    *Hannibal (DH)    3 p.m.

6-29    *Sullivan (DH)    6 p.m.

7-5-11    Ninth District Tny    TBA

* Ninth District Games

Washington Swim Team

6-13    Lake Chesterfield 232, Washington 115

6-20    at Cool Dell    5:30 p.m.

6-27    Cedarmill    5:30 p.m.

7-11    at Lake Chesterfield    5:30 p.m.

7-16    Division Meet at Cedarmill    TBA

Pacific Swim Team

6-6    Pacific 194, Union 138

6-14    Pacific 302, Fox Creek 198

6-20    Pacific 302, Indian Hills 173

6-27    JCC    6 p.m.

7-5    at Oaks Landing    6 p.m.

7-9    Phelps Division Meet    7 a.m.

Union Swim Team

6-6    Pacific 194, Union 138

6-13    at Indian Hills, PPD

6-20    JCC 232, Union 229

6-27    Oaks Landing    6 p.m.    

7-5    at Fox Creek    6 p.m.

7-9    Division Meet at Pacific    7 a.m.

Pacific Dive Team

6-18    MAC 61, Pacific 20

6-25    at Lindgate    9 a.m.

6-30    Cool Dell    9 a.m.

7-17    at Cool Dell    noon

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