Brighton High School senior wrestler Essex Ramsey is headed to the Class AAA State Tournament for the third straight season.
Ramsey (19-3) earned the state berth by taking second place at last weekend's Region 8-AAA Tournament at Cordova High School.
The number one seed in the tournament, Ramsey won his first three matches before falling to Jeffrey Houston of Germantown in the finals.
"It was a heartbreaker," said BHS coach Larrick Johnson. "Houston wrestled Essex close, losing 12-8, in their first meeting (earlier this season). Jeffrey is a solid wrestler. His style is hard to figure out."
The state tournament begins today and runs through Saturday at the Williamson County Agricultural Expo Center in Franklin.
Ramsey opens his quest for a state title against Nathan Adams (26-12), a senior from Bradley Central.
"The goal is to get to to the quarterfinals," said Johnson. "Then you have a chance at the podium (top six). That is easier said than done. This a talented group of wrestlers, 32 of the best in the state, and we're shooting for the podium."
Ramsey defeated Rayveon Hardin of Arlington, 10-5, in the first round before taking out Russell Parra of Bolton, 18-3, in the quarterfinals on Friday.
In the semifinal round on Sunday, Ramsey pinned Sina Setayeshpour of Houston in the second period at the 3:25.
Houston struck first in the finals, jumping out to a early 5-0 lead in the first period.
Ramsey responded by scoring an escape and takedown to pull within two points.
In the second period, Houston earned a second caution (false start) and Ramsey was awarded a penalty point top make it 5-4. Ramsey earned a reversal midway through the second period to go up 6-5.
With time running out, Houston earned reversal of his own to regain the lead at 7-6.
At the start of the third period, Ramsey chose the netural position (on his feet), giving Houston a one-point escape to extend the lead to 8-6.
Ramsey scored a takedown to tie the match 8-8 with 45 seconds left.
Houston started and escape move moments later and Ramsey countered the attempt as time ran out and was hit with his second stalling call.
Houston was awarded a penalty point with 15 seconds left for the final points of the match.