Hometown: Centre Hall, Pa.
Penn State Career
Since landing on campus in the fall of 2019, Baylor has seen quite a bit of action for the Nittany Lions. In his two full seasons of wrestling, Shunk has competed in 34 total matches and started out strong as a true freshman, going 14-9 in opens, including winning the Wilkes and Messiah Opens.
And in the 2021-2022 season, Baylor got the nod in six regular season dual matches at both 125 and 133 pounds. Unfortunately Shunk has not suited up this season as he is recovering from shoulder surgery.
“Whenever I don’t have a match or have to get weight off, I’m always in the room helping the younger guys,” said Shunk. “I’m always trying to share my knowledge and grow the world of wrestling and make it as enjoyable as I can for everybody else.”
Off the mat Shunk is also a two-time Academic All-Big Ten recipient in 2021 and in 2022.
Prior to Penn State
Baylor spent his high school days only a handful of miles down Route 45 east in Penns Valley. There Shunk compiled an impressive 132-38 record which included two Pa. state place finishes and a top finish of seventh. Baylor ended up being a four-time starter, four-time letter winner, and a two-time team captain for the Penns Valley Rams.
Shunk is one of only 14 Penns Valley grapplers to medal at states (he did this twice), he is one of only 10 to ever reach 100 wins, and he holds the record for wins in a single season (41) and for the youngest to ever medal at states. Baylor’s younger brother, Colten, is also an up-and-coming talent on the mat for Penns Valley.
"“Baylor Shunk is a phenomenal wrestler, but he’s even a better person. He’s just such a great kid; he’s the kid you’d want your own child to grow up like. He represents himself very well, he’s an outstanding teammate, he’s very supportive of his teammates and a great human being in general.” -PV Wrestling Coach Joel Brinker"
Hard work has been a value instilled in Baylor Shunk at a young age as he grew up on a farm his family has owned since 1907. Being in operation for 115 years, the farm even received an award from Pennsylvania honoring this.
From Baylor’s mother, Nicki, “He’s had a great work ethic from a young age. He grew up on our family farm, so he didn’t have summers like most kids vacationing and playing video games; he worked most days of his summer making hay and taking care of animals.”.
And Shunk doesn’t run from tough work as he will be the first to tell you he loves every minute he spends working on the farm. Baylor also loves teaching, coaching, and, of course, wrestling. Penn State was a perfect fit for Shunk because he could stay close to family, continue coaching in his spare time, and train with the best wrestlers and coaches in the country.
Baylor went on to add, “I had a vision in my mind of what this was going to be like and then you get here, and you start practicing, working out with these guys, getting to know them. It’s 100 times better than you can even imagine. We wrestle with a lot of enthusiasm, we go hard, but we know how to enjoy ourselves and have fun. So, I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity. It’s been a huge learning experience, but I’ve loved every second of it”
Baylor’s teaching philosophy is very similar to that of Cael Sanderson and his other Penn State wrestling coaches as he wants his students to be grateful for new experiences, to give full effort, and not be afraid to make mistakes along the way. This fall Shunk has been juggling rehabbing the shoulder with doing short student teachings in Bellwood and in Bloomsburg.
Shunk believes his time on the mat has prepared him for his career because he is accustomed to being in front of an audience, he has had to learn to adapt quickly, and he doesn’t get rattled. I’d say these are excellent traits for both a top-class wrestler and a fantastic and memorable teacher in school.
Because Baylor needs to work around the wrestling season, his full semester of student teaching will be unconventional to say the least. He will begin in mid to late March, when the wrestling season ends, and run through the summer and into the fall.
Baylor is super excited for this as student teachers rarely get to experience how summer programs work. Which is a win-win since he feels he will gain even more knowledge and experience.
When searching for a placement for his internship, Baylor specifically chose a program that had strengths which did not align with his background. For most people this would not be an easy choice, but Shunk did it so he could expand his knowledge base by learning from experts in a diverse subject.
Down the road a bit further, Baylor plans to get a job in teaching. But he also wants to coach wrestling and continue farming.
Away from the mat and away from the classroom, Shunk plays the guitar and sings, plays a mean game of cornhole, is certified in CPR for both humans and animals, and is a certified instructor in farm equipment safety.
I’m starting to wonder if Baylor Shunk’s days have way more than 24 hours in them …
Shunk also regularly visits the halls of Penns Valley where he works with the younger guys on their wrestling squad. He’s even had some of his other talented teammates tag along. Can you imagine being a wrestler on the Penns Valley team and Creighton Edsell and Aaron Brooks join as special guests? Yeah, me neither.
Another passion for Baylor is flintlock hunting. He and several other avid hunters on the team have gone out to Shunk’s grandfather’s farm to hunt on breaks.
Oh, and Shunk is a big fan of dad jokes.
“How does a taco say grace?” “Lettuce pray.”
“What did Baby Corn say to Mama Corn?” “Where’s Pop Corn?”