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Shawn Bunch shooting for 2nd straight trip to World Championships



Shawn Bunch (left) battles Mike Zadick in the U.S. Open finals. Larry Slater photo.

Shawn Bunch had worked his whole life for this opportunity.

It ended in just 80 seconds.

Bunch was caught and pinned just 1 minute and 20 seconds into his first-round freestyle match at the 2009 World Championships in Herning, Denmark.

Bunch had shot in on a leg attack for a takedown and was tied 1-1 with past World silver medalist Anatoly Guidea of Bulgaria. Bunch had a front headlock late in the first period, but he appeared to slip off Guidea and was caught on his back for a quick fall.

“That loss, it’s been pushing me all year,” Bunch said. “It was real disappointing. I obviously know I can do better. I felt real down after the Worlds. I definitely want to get back there so I can redeem myself.”

Bunch has built on the momentum of last season. He won April’s U.S. Open in Cleveland and earned a berth in the final-round series for the U.S. World Team Trials on June 11-12 at the Mid-America Center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Bunch will battle the winner of the Challenge Tournament on June 11 in the best-of-3 finals series at 60 kg/132 lbs. The winner advances to September’s World Championships in Moscow, Russia.

“I know I can wrestle with, and beat, the best guys in the World,” Bunch said. “I know I can win a World title. I just have to wrestle my match and everything will take care of itself.”

Bunch won the Challenge Tournament last year at the World Team Trials, and then beat 2009 U.S. Nationals champion Mike Zadick in the finals to earn his first trip to the Worlds.

Bunch beat Zadick, a 2006 World silver medalist and 2008 Olympian, in the finals of this year’s U.S. Open. Zadick has been wrestling well this season, winning the Dave Schultz event in February and placing in a tournament in Cuba.

“Zadick’s a very tough wrestler,” Bunch said. “We’ve had some real good battles. I have to wrestle hard the whole time against a guy like that.”

Bunch likes the idea of sitting out during the day while the other wrestlers in his division battle it out in the Challenge Tournament.

“I am going to be fresh for the finals, and I think that’s an advantage for me,” he said. “There is still a lot of pressure on me to finish it out, but I’m ready for the challenge.”

Bunch is finishing preparations for the Trials at the Ohio Regional Training Center in Columbus, Ohio. He is coached by Ohio State assistant Lou Rosselli, who coached him collegiately at Edinboro.

“Training has gone real well, and I’ve been working real hard,” Bunch said. “Lou has coached me for a long time and he knows what I need. I’m ready to go.”

Back in March, Bunch battled two-time World champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia in a dual meet in Russia. Kudukhov won the match 1-0, 1-0.

“It was a great opportunity for me to face him and get a feel for what it’s like to wrestle him,” Bunch said. “He’s a tough wrestler, but I know I can beat him. I will be ready for him the next time we wrestle.”
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