COVINGTON, Ga. – The Eastside wrestling program will be under new leadership for the 2023 season, with the announcement of Caleb Payne as the new head coach.
With two months until Eastside’s first match, former head coach Sam Miller stepped down due to personal reasons. The move opened the door for Payne, who had been an assistant coach for Miller the past two wrestling seasons.
“I was at the school when coach Young told me [of the promotion],” Payne said. “I am excited to get going.”
Payne’s coaching career began at Luella High School, before heading over to Eastside to become a member of the wrestling and football coaching staffs.
Payne referenced the love of wrestling as one of the main things he learned in his time on Miller’s staff.
Now that Payne is the head coach, he feels like the team is in a good spot despite the coaching change close to the start of the season. In his short time as head coach, Payne is establishing and culture of not settling for less than being the best.
“One thing for us this year is being able to take a step up in being competitive,” Payne said. “Like I told them [in practice], we have a lot of talented guys. It is about being able to get first in everything we do because we have a lot of guys that can make state.”
Speaking on his team and the season, Payne talked about many wrestlers for Eastside that have the chance to make state and their overall volume of talent on the roster. Even with the goal of making state still in place, Payne has been trying to establish that the team does not need to stop at just that one goal.
“One thing I have been telling them is to not be satisfied getting back to state,” Payne said. “We want to be one of the teams that is talked about in wrestling.”
The expectations will be higher for the Eagles going into the new season, coming off a 2022 run that saw them place in the top eight in state for the first time in a decade.
As Payne gets the Eagles team ready ahead for the 2023 wrestling campaign, he plans on nailing down his expectations and standards that he has set for a team. He feels the team can do more than just get to state.
“I do not accept second best,” Payne said. “I have told them that, even if we get beat, we better make sure that they earn it because we have a lot of talented guys coming back.”
Former head coach Sam Miller could not be reached for comment at the time of this publication.