MACON — Luke Frost penned his storybook ending in perfect fashion on Saturday afternoon.
Having never reached the podium in three previous trips to the GHSA Traditional Wrestling State Championships, the Carrollton High School senior not only did so in the fourth and final appearance of his career, he won the whole dang thing.
The Trojan senior standout seized the Class AAAAA 106-pound title in a 3-2 thriller over Nick Cambria of Buford in the finals, avenging a loss from last week's sectional final in another nail-biter.
After coming up just short in his three previous attempts, Frost wasn't going to be denied this time, as the power of persistence finally paid off for the relentless light weight.
"All my dedication of going to practice even when you don't feel like it and dealing with those losses the last three years, it teaches you the kind of attitude to just keep your head up and keep improving to work for it every day of your life. Just to never give up," Frost said.
Carrollton head coach Michael Cleek said Frost is a testament to how far hard work and character can take you, and he was certainly rewarded on the biggest stage of his career.
"He's what this sport is all about," Cleek said. "The guy that puts in the most work, the guy who gives the most sweat, sheds the most blood. They're going to be your state champions and Luke Frost has been that from Day 1. It's a reflection of great parents, it's a reflection of the dedication he has and the way he's absorbed coaching. He applies it not just to wrestling, but every aspect of his life. He does it in the classroom, he does it on the band, he does it on the track and it just showed right here on the wrestling mat. That's why he's a state champion."
Frost was able to build a 3-0 lead on Cambria, but his Buford opponent wasn't going down without a fight, pulling within 3-2 in the final period and creating some extremely tense final seconds for Cleek and Co.
"Oh, my goodness, counting down those seconds and making sure we didn't give up a reversal. (Cambria) beat us in the sectional final on a last-second reversal and the game plan, we weren't going to let him have a chance to get there," Cleek said. "Give Buford credit. They came after us hard, but this was just Luke's day and I can't think of a better kid to have this day."
Frost said the key to the victory was being able to get off bottom, which is something that's given him trouble in the past.
"So I just told myself over and over again, 'I'm not going to stay on bottom. I'm not going to sit there. I'm going to get on my feet and score from my feet,'" Frost said. "After those three points, I was hanging on for dear life, to be honest with you. He's a tough kid, but I just kept telling myself that this is my last year to do anything. I wanted to give it all I had so I could leave my mark on Carrollton High School."
Frost was one of four Trojan seniors who won the final match of their career and ended up on the podium Saturday, as Jacob Walsingham (152), Hunter Cantoral (160) and Grant McKinley (170) all finished in fifth place, helping Carrollton register a seventh-place team finish in the AAAAA standings.
Also competing for Carrollton this weekend were four underclassmen, as Brent Parivechio (120), Kaleb Thomaston (145), Brock Bibbee (182) and Chase Sippola (195) fell short of placing, but Parivechio, Thomaston and Sippola were all just one round shy of hitting the podium.
"We had four underclassmen that were here and three of them were in the 'blood round.' They were right there on the cusp," Cleek said. "They were just in some very difficult weight classes. We had a freshman qualify, a great kid. I look for exciting things out of him, Brock Bibbee."
But this day was about the seniors, and Frost said winning the title alongside them made it even more special.
"It's bittersweet to know that it's our last year. But I know all the seniors, to be able to come here and place and stand on that podium, it just means the world to all of us," Frost said.
And after reaching the mountain top to his Trojan career, Frost heaped high praise on the big man upstairs.
"I just want to give God all the glory for all my many years of wrestling. I've always given the glory to God. I may be at the top of the podium this year. That may be my reward, but I know my biggest reward is going to be going to heaven and being with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He's the reason that I've been able to do what I do," Frost said.