Seth Gross was a three-time Minnesota state champion for Apple Valley High School, won two Cadet Championships and a Junior national title. Now, he takes the mat as a South Dakota State Jackrabbit.
But it wasn’t always going to be that way.
In fact, Gross wasn’t recruited by South Dakota State after high school. Instead, he was being recruited by Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma State and Iowa.
Gross initially committed to Iowa University and was expected to battle for the 141-pound spot. On March 18, 2015 Gross and two teammates were arrested for underage drinking and theft.
According to Gross, he went out with a group of other wrestlers to a party and started drinking.
“Me and a handful of them ended up, after the party, going outside and we were about to leave and everybody was drunk and we were like, ‘We probably shouldn’t drink and drive right now,’” Gross said. “We ended up going out and people took things from cars, and I was one of them and obviously made some poor decisions”
Gross ended up getting arrested that night.
On March 23, 2015 the University of Iowa announced that they would suspend Gross and the other two wrestlers involved. They were removed from the program about two months later.
However, Iowa took one of the wrestlers, Logan Ryan, back into the program, but didn’t reinstate Gross.
“When things went down, they kind of pushed me away while they kept Logan,” Gross said. “I felt like, when we did get in trouble, they kind of favored him. There isn’t bad blood, but it gets me going.”
Upon leaving Iowa, Gross initially thought he would attend the University of Minnesota, as he was familiar with the coaches and the programs. However, the athletic director wasn’t sure if he wanted Gross on the team.
Gross had to shift his vision elsewhere and looked at colleges closer to his home. The two closest leading schools were the University of Northern Iowa and SDSU.
After visiting SDSU and meeting with Head Coach Chris Bono, Gross made his decision.
“When I talked to Bono, he emailed me back within five minutes and was just like, ‘Hey, let’s get you on campus’ and I loved it,” Gross said. “Bono has a fire and a passion … [I] really wanted to put the Jackrabbits on the map.”
The strength of schedule and being recently aligned in the Big 12 Conference were also big selling points for Gross.
“He was sincere, took ownership of his actions and he looked me in the eye and told me it would never happen again and I believed him,” Bono said. “It’s the best decision I have ever made.”
Now, in his sophomore year at SDSU, Gross has a 47-15 record and has climbed the InterMat national rankings to second place.
“I have a tattoo that says ‘redeemed’ on my arm,” Gross said. “I am just grateful I got a second chance.”