Lakeshore’ Bittenbender retiring after 52 years

Published 7:21 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2022

STEVENSVILLE — After 52 years and 981 dual meet victories, veteran Lakeshore Wrestling Coach Bruce Bittenbender has announced his retirement.

Lakeshore will host a press conference at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the LEF Learning Center (formerly the LGI) located next to the Lakeshore High School auditorium. Students, staff, former wrestlers and community members can attend the press conference. They are asked to use the doors nearest the auditorium located off the North parking lot.

The press conference also will be shown live on the Lakeshore Lancers Network.

To Lancer fans, Bittenbender is Lakeshore wrestling. The school started a wrestling program in 1965-66, with Bittenbender becoming the third Lancer coach, replacing Bill Wilkinson following the 1970-71 season.

His 981 dual meet wins are not only the best in Michigan, but the entire country, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ record book.

Lakeshore, under Bittenbender’s direction, has won 109 invitational championships including: 25 Berrien County invites (began in 1982), 33 conference championships, 28 district championships, 13 regional championships and two state runner-ups.

Individual Lakeshore wrestlers have placed at the state meet 116 times with 26 state champions, including three earlier this month. The list of state champions includes: Aaron Luccio (2022), Zam Thompson (2022), Micah Hanau (2022, 2020), Shane Williams (2020), Riley Bettich (2018), Tyler Humes (2010), Tyler Daniel (2009), Ryan Huebner (2002), John King (1992), Scott Mabrey (1992), Mark McKie (1992, 1991), Jason Cluff (1988, 1987, 1986), Dave Strejc (1988), Matt Cluff (1987, 1986, 1985), John Spear (1986), Gary Smith (1981, 1980) John Murphy (1979), Doug Smith (1978), and Rick McGrath (1974).