Barnesville’s Bunfill to wrestle at Edinboro

BARNESVILLE — Barnesville High School has a storied wrestling program with the likes of Tim Moxley and the Jefferies clan, just to name a couple. However, the Shamrocks have never had a NCAA Division I wrestler.

Caide Bunfill became the first Barnesville graduate to sign a National Letter of Intent for the sport Friday when he confirmed that he will continue his academic and athletic career at Edinboro University. He was joined by his parents, Scott and Kendra Bunfill, along with Barnesville head wrestling coach Jayson Stephen and athletic director Mark Cook as he penned his name.

The three-sport standout chose wrestling over football where he was an all-state running back and set a school record with 31 touchdowns and had a 397-yard output against Buckeye Trail. He also advanced to the state track meet during his career.

“No, not really,” Bunfill said when asked if it was a tough decision to pick wrestling over football. “It really didn’t matter which one I did, but wrestling gave me the better opportunity out of the two, so that’s why I picked Edinboro.”

He also selected the Fighting Scots over West Virginia University. Edinboro offers 17 varsity sports, but the wrestling is the only NCAA Division I program. The others are D-II, but all are members of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference. Wrestling is not only a member of the PSAC, but also competes in the Eastern Wrestling League.

Bunfill didn’t start wrestling until his freshman year. He had dabbled in basketball as a youngster, but once he got to high school his love for hoops had given way to football.

“I really didn’t know what to expect from wrestling as a freshman,” he admitted. “I had never wrestled before, but I knew I didn’t want to play basketball anymore. I started wrestling as a way to keep in shape for football.”

Four years later and Bunfill scripted a career that saw him qualify for the state tournament three times. He placed seventh as a junior and third this past winter. He came up just shy of 150 career victories, with 45 of them coming his senior season in 50 matches despite a nagging ankle injury from the Shamrocks playoff run.

He was also a multiple placewinner at the OVAC Ron Mauck Tournament, finishing third his senior season.

“I had a slow start but when I got healthy at the end of the season I think I showed people what kind of wrestler I can be.

“I think I’ve come a long way since I started. I didn’t know anything about the sport and then to place third in the state my senior year was a huge accomplishment,” he added. “Hopefully, I can continue to grow, get stronger and progress forward.”

He said Edinboro doesn’t really have a 195-pounder so his chances of stepping right in are promising. He also knows that it won’t be easy going from high school to the D-I level.

“I need to work on finishing matches and getting more mentally tough on the mat,” he said.

“Caide had an excellent career,” Stephen said. “For only wrestling four years, he had quite a career. He made it to Columbus three times and reached the podium twice. Not bad.”

Stephen said Bunfill meant so much to the program, but his story is something that younger kids can look at and strive to do the same.

“His career was a total 360. Wrestling is not something you just jump into. It takes time, but going from his freshman year to his senior year was a complete turnaround,” Stephen noted. “But, a kid like that who pushes himself, is open-minded and wants to listen … wants to learn.

“Caide is one of those athletes that is a coach’s dream to coach,” he continued. “I call him ‘old school’ because he does everything he’s asked. He listens and he works hard. It’s been a pleasure to watch him progress the way he has. Just to see him grow in the sport and to grow as a young man.

“I know with my four boys who all wrestle, they looked up to him on and off the mat. He kind of served as a role model for a lot of the younger kids. They would all come out to watch him wrestle.”

Bunfill will report to school on Aug. 25. He will major in engineering.