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Kingston’s Darik Brackett is bound to have some butterflies in his stomach come Thursday afternoon as that’s when the Yellow Jacket senior will make his debut at the TSSAA Division I State Wrestling Tournament in Franklin.
“I’m extremely happy,” Brackett said. “It’s good knowing that all of my hard work has paid off.”
Kingston head coach Chris Adams was also thrilled for his hard-working senior.
“Over the past four years, Darik has probably been the hardest worker on the team,” Adams said. “Nobody deserves this more than him and I’m proud of him.”
Brackett qualified for the state tournament by finishing fourth overall in the 140-pound weight class at the Region 2 Tournament at Stone Memorial High School. Brackett felt heading into the tournament that he could advance if he wrestled his best.
“I was really nervous about it, but I thought I could make it to the state if I wrestled well,” he said.
After receiving a first round bye, Brackett opened the Region 2 Tournament with a 3-2 victory over Cumberland County’s Andrew Eller. Brackett, however, lost his next match to eventual tournament champion Aaron Lopez of Clinton.
Brackett’s next match was the match that secured him a state tournament berth as he pinned Maryville’s Cory Glover.
Brackett finished the tournament by dropping his third place match against Alcoa’s Jose Rameriz.
Brackett will no doubt have to wrestle his best Thursday if he is to win his opening round match again Pigeon Forge junior Nathaniel Parton. Parton has a lot of momentum entering the tournament as he recently captured the Region 1 title in the 140-pound wight class.
Brackett says the key to picking up a win in the first round will be to settle down early and wrestle his match.
“I’ll have to get over my nerves quick and not freeze up,” he said. “I like to push the tempo and be aggressive. To do well, I’ll have to have good footwork and get off the bottom.”
“If Darik goes out and wrestles his style and he controls the match then he’s got a great chance to advance and medal,” Adams added. “The biggest thing to overcome won’t be his opponent, but rather first-time nerves. He’s got to stay calm and not exude too much energy before the match even begins.”
The TSSAA Division I State Tournament begins Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. at the Williamson County Agricultural Exposition Arena in Franklin. No matter what the outcome of Brackett’s opener, he will have another match later Thursday evening.
The TSSAA Division I State Tournament runs until Saturday with the championship matches in all 14 weight classes set to begin at 7 p.m.