Stephanie Murata hired as women s wrestling coach at Cumberland College

By Gary Abbott | March 29, 2000, 12 a.m. (ET)

Women's Team USA wrestling star Stephanie Murata has been hired to head the women's wrestling program at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky. Murata becomes the first female coach of a women's college wrestling team.

Murata competes in the 51 kg/112.25 pound weight class. She has placed fourth in the Women's World Championships for the last two years (1998, 1999) and has competed in the last four World Championships for the United States. She has also won four U.S. Nationals titles. Among her major international honors include gold medals at the Sunkist Kids International Open, the Pan American Championships, the Klippan Cup in Sweden and the Clansman International in Canada.

Murata is a 1994 graduate of the University of California, Davis. She attended Mercy High School in California. Women's wrestling is expected to be included in the 2004 Olympic Games, and Murata is a top hopeful for the U.S. team.

Murata has been traveling around the country, working camps and clinics on freestyle wrestling for girls participating in wrestling. She is excited about the opportunity to work on the collegiate level

"Women's wrestling has seen exponential growth within a short period of time," said Murata. "The commitment Cumberland College has made to women's wrestling demonstrates this. I look forward to making an immediate impact on the collegiate scene."

Cumberland College is only one of three colleges in the country supporting women's wrestling as a team sport. "Our men's wrestling team has grown dramatically and so has their success, we hope that we can have the same success with our women's program," commented assistant athletic director Julie Hill. "We are very excited to have the best of the best on our campus in Stephanie Murata; it shows the wrestling community that we are serious about our women's wrestling program," Hill continued.

Head men's wrestling coach Jess Wilder was instrumental in bringing Murata to Cumberland's campus. Wilder has been coaching the women this year and has seen first-hand the growth and excitement of women's wrestling across the country.

"Stephanie has been trained by some of the best coaches in the U.S. throughout her successful international competition," said Wilder. "She has retained various coaching techniques and strategies, which she plans to instill in our women. She will make an immediate impact in our young program's success."

Cumberland College currently has nine women wrestlers and look to have a team of 25 next year. The women's schedule includes the Sunkist Open, Keystone Women's Open, Missouri Valley Open, U.S. Collegiate Nationals, University Nationals, and the U.S. Women's Nationals. The women also have dual meets with Minnesota-Morris and Missouri Valley.

Cumberland College is a four-year liberal arts college located in the mountains of southeastern Kentucky. Cumberland College offers 22 sports for men and women. Cumberland College has some of the finest facilities for a school their size and is very proud of its successful athletic program.

For more information about Cumberland College Women's Wrestling or Cumberland College, please contact sports information director Bill Sergent at 606-539-4389 or head women's wrestling coach Stephanie Murata at 606-539-4051.