There may be no crying in baseball, but there once was in wrestling for Bella Vista High School senior dynamo Shayne Tucker.
Tucker is state-ranked No. 1 in the 152-pound weight class by the California Wrestler with 32 wins (15 by pin) and three losses.
He already has won two Sac-Joaquin Section Masters championships and will go for a third this weekend in Stockton.
As a sophomore, he placed fourth at 130 pounds at the CIF State Championships, then took second last year at 138 pounds only a few weeks after he thought his season had ended prematurely because of a knee injury.
Yet Tucker admits that during his formative years, starting at age 6, he spent almost as much time shedding tears as arm bars.
"I remember crying after every match," Tucker said. "I'd bawl my eyes out because I wanted to win so bad."
Tucker was trying mightily to keep up with brother Colton and cousins Grant and Landon Burkhalter, all two years ahead of Shayne. His father, Mark, a Fair Oaks pastor who played baseball and wrestled at San Juan High School, would haul the kids to youth tournaments throughout California and Oregon.
"Sometimes I'd have to wrestle Landon because we were similar weights," Shayne said. "Then we'd both be crying because we didn't want to wrestle each other."
Mark Tucker, an assistant Bella Vista coach and longtime director of the Broncos youth feeder club program, even remembers the tears flowing from Shayne when he was winning a match as a 7-year-old.
"I'm going, 'What's wrong? Are you hurt?' because he's crying while wrestling," Mark recalled. "When the match gets over, he blurts out, 'I just want some real food.' He'd been eating apples and other healthy stuff because he had to watch his weight between matches. But he wanted candy."
Said Shayne: "I wanted a Snickers bar. I've always loved sugar."
Since then, those close to him have called him "Sugar Shayne."
"People hear us calling him Sugar Shayne and they think it's because he's a pretty slick wrestler, but it's because all he wanted to do when he was a kid was eat candy," Mark said.
But anyone who watches Tucker in action these days realizes he's a pretty sweet wrestler.
"He's a way above average athlete," said Bella Vista coach Mike Lee. "You could put him in any sport and he'd excel. He played baseball. He was the quarterback on his Pop Warner football team.
"His P.E. teacher was telling me the other day that whatever sport they're doing that week, Shayne is usually the best in the class. Combine that with his putting in the time and a family that supports his dreams, and it's a good package."
Rene Delgado, who coaches Bella Vista rival Casa Roble, has watched Tucker mop up on his wrestlers for the past four seasons.
"He's been wrestling for so long, so he's got the experience," Delgado said. "But this year he's even more businesslike. He takes a guy down, puts him on his back once or twice and then he's done with him."
Christian Brothers senior Chris Rios was pleased to last into the second round before being pinned by Tucker during their 152-pound Division II section championship match Saturday.
"You get that right away that he's special," said Rios, who also lost to Tucker in the finals of the Capital Valley Conference tournament. "His setups and technique are crazy (good). His stance is ridiculously low, so you can't shoot on him. He's just an all-around good dude."
It was at the D-II section tournament last year that Tucker was forced to default to his opponent from Granite Bay in the 138-pound final.
"I heard something pop in my knee in practice, and it was really hurting in the tournament," Tucker said. "We even scheduled an MRI, thinking that my playoff run was over."
But instead of a tear in his left knee, as feared, Tucker had a stretched tendon. The next weekend he pinned three opponents and won two other matches by major decisions to win the Masters, then advanced to the state final before falling 4-3 to College Park of Pleasant Hill senior Brian Sergi.
"Once I found out my knee wasn't that bad, it kind of took a lot of stress out, and I just went out and had fun," Tucker said.
Tucker has been a member of four consecutive league championship teams at Bella Vista. He helped the Broncos win two D-II dual team championships, and Saturday the Broncos added a D-II divisional title banner, too.
Now, Tucker hopes to become Bella Vista's seventh boys state champion, joining three-time winner David Lee as well as Ken Gaudreau, Tony Kitchen, Mark Loomis, Lynn Mason and Tracy Yeates.
Then it will be on to college, where he has a visit scheduled with Oklahoma, his dream school, in April. He's also getting interest from other major programs, including North Carolina State and Central Michigan.
"It's a little harder for California kids to get recruited because there are so few D-I programs (three) in the state," said Tucker, who placed fourth at the prestigious Walsh Ironman tournament in Ohio last December. "So it gives you a little more drive to set your goals higher."
While there are no tears these days from Tucker, it could be pretty emotional for father and son should Shayne reach the top of the victory stand Saturday at Masters, then again March 2 in the state finals in Bakersfield.
But it may be dad crying this time.
"Every time we do a tournament this year, it's special because it's the last one of Shayne's high school career," Mark Tucker said. "I'm just glad to be his dad. I'm proud of him. He's a good young man."
"If he wins state that would be great because he's worked so hard. But if it doesn't happen, as long as he does his best, I know he can live with that."