Byron Tucker Caps Off Undefeated Season With National Title

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma

March 18, 2000

ST. LOUIS, Mo. - Byron Tucker, senior from the University of Oklahoma, claimed the national championship at 174 pounds at the NCAA Wrestling Championships, defeating Edinboro's Josh Koscheck, 3-0. Two other Sooners, Michael Lightner (141) and Orville Palmer (197), also earned All-America honors. As a team, OU scored 69.5 points to finish fourth. The fourth-place finish is Oklahoma's highest since finishing second at the 1989 NCAA championships.

Tucker capped of an undefeated season in which he went 34-0 with his first national championship. A four-time NCAA qualifier, Tucker becomes OU's first undefeated wrestler since Mark Schultz accomplished the feat in 1983 and just the 14th Sooner in school to finish a season unbeaten. The 34 wins are the most by an Oklahoma wrestler in an undefeated season. He claimed OU's first national title since John Kading finished first at 190 pounds in 1996. With the win, Tucker also ties former NCAA champion and Olympian Melvin Douglas for ninth in career victories at Oklahoma with 109.

"I dreamed of that kind of match, where everything counts," said Tucker. "I wanted to be dominant, but only won 3-0. I'm the national champion, though, and you can't argue with that."

Junior 141-pounder Michael Lightner finished as NCAA runner-up for the second straight season, falling to Carl Perry of Illinois, 5-3. Lightner earns All-America honors for the third straight year and finished the season at 33-3. Orville Palmer earned All-America honors for the first time, placing seventh at 197 pounds. The senior defeated Illinois' Pat Quirk by major decision, 10-2.

"I'm proud of the way our guys wrestled, especially Byron Tucker," said OU Head Coach Jack Spates. "He is the hardest and smartest worker I have ever coached and it really paid off. Michael Lightner wrestled a great match. It's hard to be a two-time NCAA runner-up and we still expect great things from Michael. Orville (Palmer) was dominant in the seventh-place match. As a team, we wrestled hard and had some tough matches to get to the All-America rounds. Winning the (fourth-place) trophy was huge for us and hopefully will be an indicator of things to come."