BUCKSPORT — Before his opponent even had the chance to react, David Gross had made history.
On Saturday afternoon, the Bucksport wrestling team traveled to Morse High School in Bath for the team’s final dual meet away from home this season. Facing the host team in one of several head-to-head contests, the Golden Bucks were losing as it came time for Gross to wrestle.
Gross, who competes at 285 pounds for Bucksport, was aiming to take out some of his frustration when he stepped up to face Morse’s Hayden Thompson in the final bout between the two schools. Almost instantly, the junior sent his opponent to the mat for the fastest pin in Maine high school wrestling history.
“I knew we weren’t going to win the dual, and that kind of bugged me, I guess,” Gross said. “When the ref blew the whistle, I just kind of shot right off. The next thing I know, everyone’s standing there and looking at me like, ‘What just happened?’”
The official fall time was four seconds, breaking the previous record of five seconds set by Marshwood’s Brett Gerry in 2014. Yet it was far from the only prompt pin this season for Gross, who has been making easy work of opponents from all over the state throughout the 2018-19 season.
The state-record pin came a week after Gross topped Mount View’s Nathaniel Fuller in nine seconds to claim first place in the heavyweight class at the Skowhegan Invitational. As for his four-second effort in Bath, it wasn’t even the only brief bout of the day for Gross, who later brought down Winslow’s Alexander Demers in 16 seconds in his final match.
Although Gross, who was heavyweight state champion in Class B as a freshman in 2017, is by no means a stranger to winning on the wrestling mat, his success this year has been even more pronounced. Sitting out all of last season with a knee injury has made him even more determined, and two years of growth has made him mentally and physically stronger.
“I had a good year my freshman year, but this year has been on a different level,” Gross said. “Not being able to wrestle for basically more than a whole than a year really hurt, but I learned a lot having to overcome that adversity. I feel really good about where my body is at right now.”
So strong and agile is Gross this year that his father, Dave Gross, is struggling to keep up with him. Considering Dave won a state heavyweight championship of his own at Bucksport in 1996, that’s no small achievement for his son.
“Wrestling with him back when he was a freshman, I could control him,” said the elder Gross, who is also Bucksport’s head coach. “When I do it now, I can’t control him at all. He’s just so much stronger now, and everyone can really see that difference.”
Bucksport will compete in its final meet of the regular season when it hosts Calais, Camden Hills, Cony, Fort Kent, Mount Desert Island and Nokomis in a dual meet at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 26. After that, Gross will look to qualify for the Class B, All-State and New England championships as he seeks to regain some of the crowns he was unable to defend last season.
Having sent multiple wrestlers to championship and consolation finals all year long, Bucksport has a chance to perform exceptionally well as a team throughout the upcoming championship season. If the Golden Bucks can stay healthy next year, the arrival of another family wrestling phenom, Jaxon Gross, will make them even better.
“In my personal opinion, if he keeps his work ethic up, I think he’s going to blow me out of the water,” Gross said of his younger brother. “To have me as a senior, him as a freshman and my dad as the coach all in the same year, that’s going to be pretty unbelievable.”