FREEPORT, Ill. (WIFR) -- It was a program in despair.
The Freeport wrestling team was left with just six kids at the end of the 2013-2014 season, but in the three years since, they have blossomed into one of the brightest up-and-coming teams in the NIC-10.
The Pretzels finished 1-19 that season and are now 10-10 with a 5-4 conference record, but the most important part is that they have more than 30 wrestlers and can fill out a varsity, junior varsity and frosh-soph roster.
12th year head coach Anthony Dedmond says it was hard to watch the decline in numbers, but he always kept a positive attitude for the kids that decided to stick around.
He says the rebuild took a lot of energy out of him and his wrestlers.
"[We built back up] from my middle school program, bringing a lot of interest and with our kids being more involved, said Dedmond. "[We have] a lot of summer and spring activities that we do, we have coaches that really get the kids so we try to build a lot of relationships and that spreads and kids want to be involved, a lot of bribing with summer McDonald's and that always helps out. We were able to go out and get these kids and kids spoke to kids and that worked out good for us."