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Lady Wrestlers Sign Letters to Attend University of the Cumberlands
Posted On:
Tuesday, April 08, 2014
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Article courtesy of Joe Bailey, SM Times Sportwriter, 4/8/14

Many childhood friends grow apart once they graduate from high school.

It doesn’t look like that will happen to Courteney Tompkins and Makayla Bourbon.

The two, who have been friends since kindergarten, signed their National Letters of Intent to wrestle at the University of the Cumberlands, Monday afternoon at Pioneer Valley High School.

Tompkins leaves the school as one of the most decorated athletes to ever compete, not only at Pioneer Valley, but on the Central Coast as a whole.

Tompkins, who wrestling coach Kevin Ilac spotted at freshman orientation about four years ago, is a three-time All-American and is the 2014 CIF State Champion in the 170-pound weight class, capturing her long sought-after title at the State Championships in Visalia this past March.

She defeated top-ranked Alexandria Glaude of Sacramento Christian Brothers, a junior, 3-2 at state to win the 170-pound title there. Tompkins repeated as the 170-pound CIF Southern Section champion also. She finished fourth at the Nationals on March 29.

Bourbon, who wrestled at 113 pounds, pinned second-seeded Maria Rodriguez of Covina Charter Oak 47 seconds into the second round of their 111-pound title match at the CIF Southern Section Northern Regional, which Pioneer Valley hosted. She then qualified for the state championships, finishing in the top 12.

But this dynamic duo isn’t done contributing for the Panthers. Coach Ilac expects these two signing with the Cumberlands will have a lasting impact.

 “I think it’s huge, any time you’re sending kids off to the next level it’s huge, especially with a young school,” Ilac said at the Pioneer Valley library, where the signing ceremony was held. “We want to get as many kids to that next level to encourage more kids to come out for athletics.”

Bourbon was unsure about her wrestling future, but when she had a solid senior season, she felt she had the potential to wrestle in college and decided she was ready to give it a shot.

Now she’s headed to Williamsburg, Ky., where the private liberal arts school is located.

“It’s special, I’m really excited to go to the next level and show my potential at the college level, it’s exciting,” Bourbon said.

Oddly enough, Tompkins and Bourbon never planned on going off to college together. Perhaps, after each of them signed Monday, it was just meant to be.

“We applied to the same schools and we applied to different schools,” Bourbon said. “This just happened to be one of the schools we both applied to. And they were good to both of us, they were great to both of us.”

Tompkins and Bourbon will each receive athletic and academic scholarships. They both plan on studying the same major, Physical Therapy.

Tompkins said Cumberlands wrestling coach Donnie Stephens, a native of California, built quite a rapport with her and that was the main thing in drawing her to Kentucky.

Tompkins was recruited by many college programs.

Tompkins has already put some thought into what she wants to do at the college level.

“I hope to become an All-American or a national champion in college,” Tompkins said. “I also hope to go to the Olympics.”

Women’s wrestling is recognized by the Olympics as a sport and a women’s wrestling competition was held in London is 2012.

Bourbon and Tompkins both said it was their high school coach who had the biggest impact on their wrestling careers.

 “Ilac got me to try wrestling and I absolutely fell in love with it,” Tompkins said. “He taught me everything I know. He helped me become the person I am today. He’s like my second dad. He’s my idol, I guess I’d say.”

Bourban feels the same way.

 “(Ilac) did everything for me,” Bourbon said. “I could actually call him a second dad. He helped me get to this point. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be making this big decision, I’d just be stuck here in California not doing anything. I’d be clueless and I really appreciate that.

“I want to say thank you and that I love him.”

Tompkins was accompanied by her mother Kimberly and father Matthew. Bourbon’s parents, her mother Marina and her father Michael, also attended the ceremony.

The Cumberlands competes at the NAIA level in women’s wrestling. Ilac said all college wrestling programs are currently competing in the NAIA, which is not a part of the NCAA.

Ilac is happy these two girls are off to school and continue to wrestle, but he’s sad to see them go.

“They’re awesome ladies, and they’re great girls to build (a program) around,” Ilac said. “Young ladies can now look up in the room and say, ‘I want to be just like Courteney. I want to be just like Makayla.’ And that inspires them to go to the highest level. For us, it’s just making another mark in our program to get more kids into wrestling and get them access to education afterwards.”

That mission has been accomplished.




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