Lambert senior wrestler Andrew Morin knows the routine well. The lights go out, the song plays and the spotlight follows each wrestler as they’re introduced for the finals of the traditional state tournament.
After back-to-back season of near finishes, nothing less than an appearance in the finals at 120 pounds will do for Morin.
"That’s my vision," Morin said.
The Longhorns senior returns as one of the most accomplished wrestlers in Forsyth County this season. The two-time state placer finished fourth at 113 in Class AAAA as a sophomore and fifth at 113 in Class AAAAA last season.
If this season goes as Morin hopes it can, he could end his career as Lambert’s most accomplished wrestler in the program’s short history, becoming its first three-time state placer and holding virtually every significant individual record.
That would go a long way toward helping a Longhorns team that finally feels it has the kind of depth in the middle weight to make a push toward a state duals appearance.
"I feel very confident this year," Morin said. "We have all these new guys who have been wrestling for a pretty long time and are filling out all our spots. We’re pretty solid all throughout."
Lambert coach Kevin Contardi is leaning on Morin, a second-year captain, to lead the Longhorns.
"He’s always one of the hardest working kids in the room," Contardi said. "He leads by example when we’re in the weight room. And he leads by example in the classroom as well. He does a good job of balancing all those things."
Morin balanced numerous sports growing up. All the Morin kids did. They played baseball, football, soccer, even karate. Every season had its sport for Morin, except winter.
So Morin’s older brother, Robert, signed up for wrestling one year. Andrew got hooked watching his brother compete.
"We all loved it," Morin said.
It was the perfect sport for the Morin boys who could turn anything into a competition – eating (Andrew wins), weight lifting (again, Andrew wins), board games, poker.
"We’re a very competitive family," Morin said.
That’s the drive behind his mission to reach the finals this season. Morin is doing anything it takes, even spending two-and-a-half hours after practice at Fischer’s Wrestling Academy in Cumming getting group and private instruction.
Because Morin didn’t like how last year felt. Sure, as a sophomore, placing fourth was nice. He got a spot on the podium for finishing top 4, and it was his first time ever at state, a fine accomplishment for such a young wrestler.
But Morin doesn’t think much about that fifth-place finish last season. Yes, Lambert jumped up to the highest classification. The teams were bigger, the weight class deeper in talent. He ran into Collins Hill’s Sean Russell, the eventual state champion, and lost. No podium spot, no sense of accomplishment.
Morin doesn’t want that again.
"Everything I do until state right now matters. It all matters," Morin said. "Every single rep I do, every practice I do, every hour I put in matters until state.
"I need to stay healthy, stay in shape, go as hard as I can now, because in three months it’s going to be all over. I’ll look back and have either accomplished my goals or not."