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Gross aims for redemption, NCAA title in Cleveland

ABBY+FULLENKAMP%0AJunior+Seth+Gross+wrestles+against+NDSU+Cam+Sykora+during+the+133-pound+bout+Feb.+16.+Gross+defeated+Sykora+by+a+tech+fall+of+16-0+with+a+time+of+4%3A00.
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Gross aims for redemption, NCAA title in Cleveland

ABBY FULLENKAMP
Junior Seth Gross wrestles against NDSU Cam Sykora during the 133-pound bout Feb. 16. Gross defeated Sykora by a tech fall of 16-0 with a time of 4:00.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Junior Seth Gross wrestles against NDSU Cam Sykora during the 133-pound bout Feb. 16. Gross defeated Sykora by a tech fall of 16-0 with a time of 4:00.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Junior Seth Gross wrestles against NDSU Cam Sykora during the 133-pound bout Feb. 16. Gross defeated Sykora by a tech fall of 16-0 with a time of 4:00.

ABBY FULLENKAMP Junior Seth Gross wrestles against NDSU Cam Sykora during the 133-pound bout Feb. 16. Gross defeated Sykora by a tech fall of 16-0 with a time of 4:00.

Trenton Abrego

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Last year, Seth Gross was one point away from being the first South Dakota State wrestler to win a NCAA National Title.

Gross dropped a 4-3 decision to Cory Clark of Iowa, the school Gross had formerly attended.

For Gross, that match only added fuel to his fire for the sport.

“It helped me get to where I am this year,” Gross said.

Losing to Clark in the championship changed the way Gross looked at wrestling, according to head coach Chris Bono.

“I don’t think it humbled him, I think it put things in perspective,” Bono said.

It wasn’t the only roadblock to come out of Iowa to deter the career of Gross. Coming out of high school, he committed to the Iowa Hawkeye wrestling team.

After the 2014-15 season at Iowa, Gross was dismissed due to an incident in which he was caught breaking into cars under the influence of alcohol with fellow teammates.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do after that,” Gross said of the incident. “Family and my support system got me through that.”

Gross committed to SDSU and the program that Bono had turned around prior to the 2015-2016 season.

However, Gross wasn’t always the top performer on the collegiate wrestling scene that he is now.

As a freshman during the 2015-16 season, Gross filled out the Jacks lineup at the 141-weight class. Despite making weight easily and sometimes weighing less than 141 pounds, Gross had a decent season his freshman year going 26-14.

“I didn’t have much confidence my freshman year,” Gross said.

Gross seemed to turn a corner in the off-season, he dropped down to the 132-weight class at the United World Wrestling Junior World Team Trials and won first place. Gross defeated Mitch McKee in three rounds. Gross won the first round 8-5 and the third round 16-12. McKee won the second round 10-6.

“I was out of shape at 141,” Gross said. “I am feeling quicker, stronger (at 133), I feel a lot better now.”

This season, Gross has been on a tear at the 133-weight class and hasn’t dropped a match. He has lost once this season at the 141-weight class against top-ranked Bryce Meredith of Wyoming. Meredith defeated Gross in a 4-2 decision during the Jan. 18 SDSU versus Wyoming dual.

Domination at the 133-weight class for Gross is nothing new, in his collegiate career Gross has compiled a 58-2 record.

It wasn’t just his weight Gross adjusted, but also his attitude toward the sport.

“I just started to believe in myself and wrestling to win instead of being scared to lose,” Gross said.

Now, Gross has set the bar high for the Jacks program. He was the No. 1 wrestler at the 133-weight class throughout the year and earned the top seed going into the NCAA Wrestling Championships.

Experience being on this stage before and familiarity with his opponents will be an edge for Gross.

“He’s going to be familiar with all of his opponents,” Bono said. “We’ve looked at the bracket, we have wrestled most of them.”

Gross has faced 11 of the 33 competitors at the 133-weight class in his collegiate career and has compiled a 17-0 record against those opponents.

The first match of this year’s NCAA Tournament for Gross will come against Matt Schmitt of West Virginia. Gross has defeated Schmitt twice this year. His latest victory came at the Big 12 Championships in which Gross won a 10-2 major decision.

If Gross defeats Schmitt, he will face either McKee from Minnesota or John Finesilver from Duke.

Part of the mantra for Gross and the Jacks, has been to take it one match at a time all season, and this weekend won’t be any different.

Gross will need to make sure to take every opponent in the upcoming NCAA Wrestling Championships seriously in order to avoid more obstacles.

“I don’t know where I would be in the sport if it wasn’t for everything that has happened,” Gross said.

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Gross aims for redemption, NCAA title in Cleveland