Sports Spotlight: Baden Bunch races towards league records

Ashlin Quach

“I walked in freshman year [and] I looked at those records. Up in the gym, I read them, and I said, ‘I love this sport, and I’m coming for those records.’ I wanted to work my butt off and try to [reach my goals] by the end of my high school career,” said senior Baden Bunch.

From his seventh-grade year at Kent Middle School to his senior year at Redwood High School, Bunch has consistently stood out as a star athlete on the track and field team. He has been an integral member of the team, including helping to set a new school record for the 4×100 meter relay. With an unwavering determination to excel, Bunch has always strived to be the best at what he does.

Bunch receives the handoff in the last leg of the 4×100 from senior Miles Grossman and takes off to the finish line.

With COVID-19 forcing Bunch to miss out on his freshman year of track, he has continued to put in hours upon hours of hard work and dedication despite some challenges he’s faced.

“Not having a freshman season and just quarantine, in general, was hard on many people, including me. I had a big lack of motivation during that time … there were those days [when] I didn’t want to work out. [However,] those were the days where I just had to say no, I have a goal, and I need to get there,” Bunch said

This discipline and consistency Bunch possesses are why he is one of the fastest athletes in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL). In his junior year, Bunch recorded a lightning-fast 10.86-second hundred-meter dash in the MCAL championship, landing him in second place. This season, Bunch will look to step up to first place and his sprinter coach, Earl Downing, believes that he will break the current record.     

“There’s maybe a few people that might push [Bunch]. But, I just really don’t see anybody finishing anywhere near him; nobody’s going to beat him … it could be something fairly provocative like a sub-ten-five, which would certainly be a Marin County high school record,” Downing said.

Downing first started training Bunch over the summer of 2020, during quarantine, where they worked on various running techniques to make Bunch the best version of himself. Downing knew Bunch was special right away. 

“I could project out and see the possibilities for [Bunch] and knew they were substantial. We just had to be patient and let the process work and it has,” Downing said.

Downing was certainly right; on Nov. 4, 2022, Bunch announced his commitment to run Division One (D1) track at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. The recruitment process was stressful yet fulfilling for Bunch. Many other schools were on his radar, including Army West Point, Chapman and various UCs. However, when Bunch made his final decision to attend Cal Poly, it was his dream come true. 

 “Once I finally had that final talk with my coach and made [my commitment] official to Cal Poly, it was just the biggest weight off my shoulders, and I felt so relieved and happy with my decision,” Bunch said. 

Practicing his techniques, Bunch prepares for his upcoming meet.

Throughout his experience, Bunch has had a variety of coaches and supporters help guide him along the process. But none of them have supported him like his father.

“[My dad has] helped me through my recruiting process involving talking to coaches at different schools. He’s definitely been my main supporter and right-hand man that I’ve leaned on. I thank him a lot,” Bunch said.

Many would think that after achieving an accomplishment, such as committing to a D1 college, there’s not much else to strive for, but this is not the case for Bunch. 

“For the sport I love, I just want to keep pushing and seeing what I can do and seeing what my body can get to, because otherwise I would just be left wondering,” Bunch said.

Bunch will leave Redwood with his name in the record book forever. Despite the outcomes of this season, Bunch will always hold a record — not only at Redwood but in the overall MCAL league, as one of the most dedicated and hardworking athletes.