Seeing years of hard work, pain and disappointment ultimately pay off on the highest stage possible is something that every prep athlete dreams about.
In Luke Frost's case, that exact dream turned into a reality.
Coming up short in his three previous attempts at state glory, the Carrollton High School senior wrestler didn't want to let another opportunity slip through his grip when he stepped into the Macon Centreplex for the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships on Feb. 10.
And Frost, the 2017-18 Times-Georgian All-Area Lower Weight Wrestler of the Year, came through with everything on the line, defeating Buford's Nick Cambria in a 3-2 thriller to become the Class AAAAA 106-pound state champion.
Having a little over a month to reflect on his accomplishment, the Trojan champ is satisfied that his hard work paid off and the mission is finally complete.
"It's really cool to work so hard toward something. This is a sport where you have to give it your all or you're not going to see anything come out of it," Frost said. "Anywhere I go in life, I'll be able to look back at that moment and say that the work is worth it. Even in the workplace, I'll always be working to be greater at whatever I do. So that's one way wrestling is going to forever impact my life."
Carrollton head coach Michael Cleek was certainly proud of seeing his veteran grappler finally break through.
"This is a kid that we always expected great things from. Anyone who's witnessed him work in the wrestling room, he works like a champion. He's the hardest-working kid every day and the most disciplined kid in our wrestling room. He never complains, he works to the point of exhaustion and that's what it takes to be a state champion in wrestling," Cleek said.
"In addition to what we do in practice, he'll stay after and drill the other kids on moves. Regardless of whether we'll ask him to wrestle his weight class or higher weight classes, he's like, 'I can do it coach.' He never ran from anyone or questioned anything a coach asked him to do. The example that he set in our room, I can always point and say to other kids that this is what it's going to take. You've seen it now."
According to Cleek, the influence of a former Trojan great turned Big XII champion had a huge effect on how Frost approached the sport.
"Luke watched Taylor Lujan do it and he set a goal. And with that goal, he worked every day with the intent of winning a state championship," Cleek said. "It paid off and it did my heart good to see that young man achieve his goals and become a state champion. I hope and I believe that his work is going to pay off for this program in the long run."
Frost will be the first to tell you that his march to a state title this past winter was forged in the fires of underachievement.
Failing to reach the podium in his previous appearances at state, he made sure that his senior trip to Macon would end differently.
"It was a big motivation for me knowing that for the past three years I choked and I'm OK with saying that because that's the truth. I'm not going to sugarcoat it or anything. I got to the state tournament and always choked," Frost recalled. "After my junior year, something in my head just kind of snapped where I knew that it'd be my last year to leave an impact on the sport and have anything great come about it, so it definitely drove me to work harder than I've ever worked before."
Cleek said Frost earned every bit of his title with some extremely tough draws in the 106-pound bracket over the years.
"He'd be right on the cusp of placing, but would draw a really tough kid and would get beat," Cleek said. "He'd get down, but that went away almost instantaneously and he'd get back to work lifting weights and doing what he's supposed to do."
And for Cleek, the way his 106-pound veteran achieved his mission on the mat was a reflection of his approach to, well, everything.
"Here's the thing. It's not just wrestling that he does that in. Luke Frost is a state champion in everything he does. Whether it's academics, band, cross country, track, he's phenomenal in everything he does," Cleek said. "It's character and that's a reflection of his parents and the raising that they gave him. You can't coach that in a kid and he's got all the exemplaries that we look for at Carrollton High School."
With his prep career now in the history books, the outgoing senior cited the brotherhood between he and his Trojan teammates as what he'll miss most.
"Those who suffer together, stick together and we were all kind of suffering together there for a while in not being able to make weight and other things. They're my brothers and I'm definitely going to miss the bond and unity that we had every day in practice," Frost said.
With options for what he'll do after he leaves the halls of CHS, Frost hopes that wherever he goes, the lessons of hard work paying off will carry with him.
"I got accepted to UGA and Jacksonville University, so I'm definitely looking at both of those options and determining what's going to be the best fit for me and what I want to do," Frost said. "I plan on studying veterinary sciences and going into the medical field."