The Lompoc Valley isn't exactly a hotbed for girls wrestling.
That may be about to change.
Although Lompoc High doesn't have a girls wrestling team, former Brave Samantha Croker has earned herself a wrestling scholarship. On Tuesday, Croker signed to wrestle for the University of the Cumberlands, a liberal arts college in Williamsburg, Kentucky.
Croker spent most of her time at Lompoc High, from where she graduated in early June, wrestling boys. When she leaves for the Cumberlands some time in August, she'll finally have her chance to wrestle against other women full time.
Croker said she's been busy preparing for the physical and mental toll collegiate wrestling will exert on her.
"I'm trying to be prepared, I'm working out every day," she said. "I think it's going to be a lot different, I've never actually wrestled on a girls team before because I've always had boys around me."
Croker said even though participation in girls wrestling at Lompoc was certainly limited, that it may not have held her back all that much.
"There was maybe three girls on the team, for the most part I wrestled guys for the four years, besides my final year," Croker said. "That was hard! It was hard... I think it made me a better wrestler, but girls are a lot more flexible than guys, so it's a lot different."
At Tuesday's signing ceremony inside the Lompoc athletics office, Croker was joined by her parents, brother, best friend and Lompoc basketball and track standout Chrisshnay Brown, as well as her boyfriend, Derrick Portis, who signed to play football at Upper Iowa earlier this year.
Croker's father Mark Croker graduated from Lompoc in 1981 and says he knew early on that Samantha would find something she would excel at athletically.
"Sam always had Tomboy tendencies," Mark said. "She never had a real girly childhood from the start."
Croker found an avenue to express those abilities once she got to Lompoc High. She never wrestled before her freshman year. Croker went on to make back-to-back appearances at the CIF Masters Meet, the state qualifying tournament.
Croker has yet to visit the Cumberlands campus in Kentucky, but is expected to make a trip later this month. Croker added that, as part of her scholarship, she has also been invited to be a member of the Cumberlands softball team, although she didn't play softball at Lompoc.
Croker did, however, play track and field and volleyball for the Braves, helping the volleyball team make the playoffs this past season.
Croker had a third-place finish at the CIF Southern Section Northern Regional Qualifying Tournament back in February, wrestling at 131 pounds.
The 18-year-old doesn't know if she is quite ready to move across the country. She doesn't have much experience living away from home.
"It rains a lot, it's raining right now," Croker said. "There's only like 5,000 people in the town. It's a small town so I think it's going to be a lot different. Lompoc isn't that big either, but compared to that town it's huge."
Croker said she initially planned on going to Chico State and throwing the discus there, but when the Cumberlands offer came up, she made the decision to sign with the Patriots.
"I think it was just, I kind of wanted to wrestle a lot more," Croker said. "I might as well go and see if I like it."
Croker said her getting into wrestling four years ago was, "Really random."
Lompoc wrestling coach Kyle Mayse was influential in developing her as a wrestler, Croker added.