WLU’s No. 1 wrestler looks for a strong return to the mat

By Yijing Shen, Distribution Manager
West Liberty University’s redshirt senior wrestler Darius Bunch is saving his power to be back for his final season on coach Mitch Smith’s team. 

Finishing with a sparkling 29–6 record last year, All-American Darius Bunch created a record at WLU with a fourth place at 133 pounds in the 2018 NCAA Division II wrestling championship. 
Before becoming a national qualifier, Bunch won the 133-pound championship of Midwest Classic. 
A man cannot succeed without passion. Bunch has been looking for any opportunity to wrestle and then he found West Liberty University. He transferred from Emmanuel College, Ga. Bunch feels right to gain his biggest achievement in the year under coach Smith’s instruction. 
Because he is always  around and giving advice to teammates, Bunch is considered an absolute leader of the team. 
“He is the type of leader that has an athlete perspective more than a coach,” said Head Wrestling Coach Mitch Smith. “He has done a very good job to help lead the program and the current guys in the team. He is a very positive role model in the team, and he is also a very outspoken captain too. He picks people up when they are down, and tells them what to do, what is right and what is wrong.” 
Outstanding records do not bother Bunch. For his leisure time, he likes watching movies and playing video games. Also, Bunch’s teammates and friends appreciate having his energetic self  around. 
“He leads by example,” said sophomore wrestler Chase Morgan, “He is full of energy too. He is a man that will be dehydrated and hungry, but he is still going to do really well and [it’s] crazy.”
Bunch will keep his ambition of ranking No. 1 nationally until May 2020, the day he graduates from WLU. “I want our team to be ranked No. 1 in the country, and I want myself to be No. 1 too,” said Bunch. 
Coach Smith also put high expectation on Bunch to make an improvement during his final year. 
“This year, we are redshirting him. He is going to be in the open tournament to get a little bit better, and he may go up a weight class next year, see how the improvement goes – hopefully to put him to be the best he can be, and run for a national title.”
It’s never too early to plan for the future. Even though he has two more years to go, as an entrepreneurship major in the College of Business, Bunch has already decided to work in real estate.
Photo Credit: Hilltoppersports.com