Eastpointe High junior Caleb Juneous, left, battles with junior Kyle Welch during a  recent practice. Shamrocks coach Joseph Bidinger has high hopes  for Juneous this year.

Eastpointe High junior Caleb Juneous, left, battles with junior Kyle Welch during a recent practice. Shamrocks coach Joseph Bidinger has high hopes for Juneous this year.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Eastpointe High wrestling building new culture

By: Zachary Manning | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 16, 2019

  Eastpointe High sophomores Mario Smith, bottom, and Will Blanchard work on technique during a recent practice. Shamrocks coach Joseph Bidinger called Smith a standout for his team.

Eastpointe High sophomores Mario Smith, bottom, and Will Blanchard work on technique during a recent practice. Shamrocks coach Joseph Bidinger called Smith a standout for his team.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

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EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe High wrestling program has been a revolving door for coaches over the last few years. 

The Shamrocks have had a different coach each of the past three seasons. However, new coach Joseph Bidinger is looking to change that and leave his mark on the program. 

Since taking over, his main focus has been on changing the culture and getting his wrestlers to be responsible on and off the mat. 

“Most important thing is you’re a student-athlete. You’re not an athlete-student. Your grades are No. 1; No. 2 is your conduct. If you’re getting kicked out of school for fighting, I don’t want you on my team. If you see most wrestling programs, they’re very disciplined. Your bad programs got kids that are constantly getting kicked out of school,” said Bidinger.

At press time, the Shamrocks hadn’t participated in any individual meets, but they had competed in a few tournaments. Bidinger said he has seen vast improvements in his guys from the start of the season to now. 

The athletes on the team have seen a culture shift and have started buying into what the coaching staff is preaching. Senior Elijah Cram is one of those guys who has seen some positives in the new coaching style. 

“For the past couple of years, we’ve had new coaches, and it’s been a big change with Coach Joe, because he’s on top of everyone. If they don’t come to practice, they’re off the team, and I think that’s a really good change,” Cram said. 

A few guys the first-year coach has seen stand out so far this year are Cram (171-pound weight class), sophomore Mario Smith (215) and junior Caleb Juneous (135).

Cram is hoping to reach the state tournament this year, and Bidinger expects him to reach that level. This is Smith’s first year wrestling, but he’s been able to shine thus far, while Juneous has received nothing but praise from the coaching staff. 

“The way my dad raised me, if I put my mind to something, I don’t stop, and I don’t let anything stop me from getting what I want. If I see a kid trying to stop me, then I will wrestle him my hardest and try to do my best,” Smith said. 

As he continues to work with the grapplers in his program, Bidinger wants to keep everyone involved with the team. He wants the middle school and the high school wrestlers to be working on becoming better at their craft. 

“I really have high hopes for this program. It’s not middle school wrestling season right now, but I’ve got as many middle school wrestlers out there right now as high school wrestlers. They’re coming on their own because they want to be better wrestlers,” Bidinger said. “I’ve changed the philosophy here at the school. We used to have a middle school program and a high school program. Now it’s one program. They learn the same system from the sixth grade to the 12th grade. I’m hoping to build the team four years from now with the middle school, keeping the middle school kids in the room year-round.”

Call Sports Writer Zachary Manning at (586) 279-1107. 

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