Endodontist recalls Big 12 victory on the wrestling mat
Dr. Byron Tucker was a NCAA national champion with an impressive win record.
Dr. Byron Tucker practices at Endodontic Specialists of Northeast Oklahoma.
The University of Oklahoma has enjoyed its share of national champions, but few could match the drive and determination exhibited by former Sooner wrestler Dr. Byron Tucker.
Tucker, now an endodontist with Endodontic Specialists of Northeast Oklahoma in Tulsa, was a three-time all-state wrestler who graduated from Western Branch High School in Chesapeake, Virginia. Undefeated his senior year, he finished with a 40-0 record and claimed the Virginia state title in the 152-pound weight class.
Tucker traveled to Norman on a recruiting visit and accepted the Sooners’ scholarship offer, feeling he could achieve his goals there as a student athlete. He says the transition from high school to college wrestling was not that difficult or different. “I just needed to believe that I was good enough,” Tucker recalls.
Experiencing a sensational freshman year on the mat, Tucker’s record was 24-10, and he placed third in the Big 8 Conference meet. He followed that with successful sophomore and junior seasons as he claimed second and third place, respectively, in the Big 12 Conference meet. Each year he advanced to the NCAA national tournament.
That is when his wrestling career took a slight detour. Tucker decided to redshirt the 1998-99 season, his senior season.
“I was fearful of failure,” says the highly driven Tucker. “I needed time to get away and refocus.”
That time away paid huge dividends. He completed his senior season with a perfect 34-0 record and captured the national championship in the 174-pound weight class.
“I simply had the mindset to go out and do my best each match,” he says. “I couldn’t guarantee I would win, but I could guarantee that I would give it my all.”
Tucker finished his collegiate career with 109 victories. He considered working toward the Olympics but took the path of dentistry instead.
Looking back, he says wrestling taught him how to set a goal and pursue it. “It taught me about working hard and doing my best.”