STOCKTON It has been a hectic nine days for Bella Vista High School junior Shayne Tucker.
The state's top-ranked 138-pound wrestler won the Sac-Joaquin Section Masters meet Friday afternoon at Stockton Arena after rebounding from a recent left knee injury he thought had ended his season.
Tucker suffered the injury while sparring with Oakmont senior Jake Elliott the section 152-pound champion on Feb. 15. He said he heard several pops and could hardly put weight on that knee in the next two days.
"I was in shock," Tucker said. "I was crying because I thought my season was done."
But after he was cleared by a doctor, Tucker decided to compete heavily bandaged in the section Division II meet.
He withstood the pain for two matches to clinch a berth in the Masters before leaving to get an MRI rather than risk further injury while trying for a better draw. The MRI revealed no torn ligaments, just a stretched tendon.
"The pain wasn't so bad at that point it just messed me up mentally," Tucker said. "Once I got reassured, I felt great this week."
Tucker rode those good vibes to three pins Thursday to clinch a return to the state meet, then earned major decisions in both the semifinal and the championship match.
He will enter the CIF state meet next weekend at Rabobank Arena in Bakersfield as the 138-pound favorite.
It's his third trip to the state meet. He was fourth last year at 130 pounds and 12th at 119 as a freshman. Tucker's teammate, Victor Trujillo, wrestled in a thrilling 120-pound final, falling 4-2 in overtime to Vacaville's Kasey Klaus.
Coping with injury Natomas junior 182-pounder Jordan Sepeda also knows something about dealing with pain.
Last season, he tore his left ACL at the state meet and continues to rehabilitate. In his second match of the Masters on Thursday, Sepeda dislocated his right elbow. During injury time, a coach popped the joint back in place, and he finished the match, losing 6-2 to Freddy Lopez of Elk Grove.
Last year's section champ at 189, Sepeda rebounded to take third place, going 5-0 after the injury and receiving treatment from on-site medical staff after each bout.
"I'm humbled, but now I get to go back to state," Sepeda said. "Got to finish some work down there."
Comeback kid It seems so silly now to Center senior Khymba Johnson after he nearly quit wrestling.
Urged to wrestle by senior football players when he was a freshman, he admitted it was tough to adjust. He quit briefly, but that did not sit well with his family.
"They told me I couldn't quit, that they taught me better than that," he said.
Four years later, Johnson is a two-time section medalist and the 2012 Masters champion at 195 pounds.
Three's company Elk Grove senior Martin Ramirez claimed his third section title with a 6-4 decision over Nevada Union's Julian Purdy. Though he had wrestled for eight years before enrolling at Elk Grove, Ramirez said the mystique and history of the program were intimidating.
"My goal was just to win a section championship one day," Ramirez said. "Now I have three."
Ramirez was the lone champion but one of eight medalists for the Herd, which finished second to 14-time section champion Vacaville in the team competition.
Minshew advances Jake Minshew of Casa Roble finished fifth at 220 pounds to advance to state, but Mason Koshiyama of Folsom tied for 12th at 138 to fall short. Both are freshmen.