SARANAC, Mich. — For years, Saranac kids who wanted to wrestle were forced to find other options for high school.
"I've been wrestling ever since I was like three," sophomore AJ Thompson said. "If they didn't have a program here I was going to have to do something else because I love wrestling."
Before the 2018-2019 school year, there was not a high school wrestling program at Saranac. Five years ago a youth program was started by current assistant coach Jayson Potter.
"Anybody that knows wrestling, knows that it is a love sport, Potter said. "Heart is filled with wrestling and you are going to find it, you are going to go somewhere else if we don't have it at our school."
Last year, with a core group of freshman, Saranac was able to restart the varsity program.
"The students here have shown much interest in the sport," head coach Rob DeBoer said. "With the youth program growing in numbers every single year we were happy to be able to bring into the school."
Becoming the twelfth sport at the Class C school is a big deal, wrestling can offer many benefits to high school kids.
"Wrestling is really important," sophomore Mason Potter said. "It helps with every other sport if you have a good wrestling team, every other sports is going to be good at the school. Wrestling is the fundamental that everybody needs to do."
Last week Saranac hosted its first varsity wrestling meet since 2009.
"Being the first meet, people come up to me all around the school and say 'awesome job, hope you guys do good, I'm going to be there to support you,'" sophomore Rally Shade said. "All these people are telling us 'good job', even if they aren't going to be here they were still saying all there support and 'sorry can't make it.'"
With such a young program, Saranac doesn't have the ability to fill out a full squad, they forfeit some weight classes. The hope is that with good numbers at the youth level, that will soon change.
"If we can get a full team in the next couple of years," DeBoer said. "I'm excited I think we got some really good wrestlers in the youth program, we got some rally good wrestlers here right now."
"It is really cool being the first one's to be able to wrestle for this program," Mason Potter said. "Hopefully it gets big and I can say one day I was the one that started this program in high school."