David Gross likely will be well-rested going into Bucksport High School’s final regular-season wrestling meet on Saturday.
That’s a residual benefit of setting a state record for fastest pin in a match.
Gross, a junior who wrestles in the heavyweight (285-pound) division, capped off a five-win day during last weekend’s meet at Morse High School in Bath by abruptly pinning the Shipbuilders’ Hayden Thompson in four seconds.
“We had lost the dual meet already and I was a little frustrated about that, and then the whistle blew and I shot right in,” Gross said. “We went down from there, he fell right on his back and before I knew it, it was over.
“Normally you shoot to set up other moves and you go from there, but this time I shot and circled and he was on his back. It happened pretty quick.”
Gross’ four-second pin bested the previous quickest pin in state history, a five-second stoppage by former three-time Class A state champion Brett Gerry of Marshwood High School in South Berwick on Dec. 17, 2014, according to records compiled by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The stoppage also ties the national standard for fastest pin in the 285-pound weight class with Justine Irene of Hanna, Wyoming, who scored his four-second pin on Feb. 2, 2013.
Eight wrestlers nationwide in other, lighter classes are credited with 3-second pins, according to the NFHS records.
Gross’ four-second victory was barely his quickest of the day, as he also secured a 16-second pin over Winslow’s Alexander Demers during a meet when all of his wins were first-round stoppages.
A week earlier, he defeated Nathaniel Fuller of Mount View of Thorndike in nine seconds to capture the 285-pound championship at the Skowhegan Invitational tournament.
The early endings mark the latest step in Gross’ continuing comeback from knee surgery.
Gross was an instant success on the mat at Bucksport. He won the 2017 Class B 285-pound state championship and became the first freshman to win the overall Maine heavyweight title. He capped off an undefeated winter against Maine competition by winning his weight class at the New England qualifying meet.
But when he went to compete at the New Englands he suffered a dislocated kneecap during his first match, which marked the end of his wrestling season and the start of rehab to prepare for his sophomore year of football.
Matters seemingly became worse when Gross re-aggravated his knee during a preseason scrimmage in August 2017, though he played through the injury that season. He earned first-team All-LTC honors as both an offensive lineman and defensive lineman while helping Bucksport reach the Class D North championship game. He also was named the league’s 2017 Bob Carmichael Defensive Lineman of the Year.
But while he survived football season, Gross was unable to fight through the injury last winter.
“I wrestled two matches and went 2-0, and then I went to wrestle my last match of the day and couldn’t even walk on my knee,” he said. “There was nothing left. I knew everything was torn.”
Gross was diagnosed with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, a partially torn meniscus and a torn medial patellofemoral ligament. He underwent surgery last Feb. 9.
“Bucksport has never had a four-time [wrestling] state champion, and it was something I really wanted. I tried to get it, but I couldn’t and realized that if I wanted to play football I had to get surgery,” he said.
Gross returned to the gridiron midway through the 2018 season and helped the Golden Bucks return to last fall’s Class D North title game. He was named the league’s Toogie McKay Offensive Lineman of the Year and again earned All-LTC first-team honors on both offense and defense.
Gross waited to make his wrestling debut this winter after spending nearly two months dropping from his football-playing weight of 320 pounds to the heavyweight limit on the mat under the watchful guidance of his mother and father, Bucksport wrestling head coach Dave Gross.
“I did it the healthy way and over a long time,” the younger Gross said of a low-carbohydrate diet he still abides by that features lots of vegetables, lean meats and water while cutting out added sugars and sodium.
“My mom is a great cook and she cooks me all the healthy stuff.”
Gross combined that dietary discipline with a workout regimen that included running a mile to a mile-and-a-half, jumping rope and shooting basketballs each morning before school, then attending wrestling practice after school.
Gross returned to competition on Jan. 5 and since then is 16-0 for a Bucksport team that hopes to compete for top honors at next week’s Penobscot Valley Conference championships as well as at the Class B regional and championship meets.
He’s likely to get his biggest individual test of the winter to date Saturday when he faces the reigning Class A 220-pound state champion, James Boyd of Nokomis of Newport, during a meet at Bucksport. That event also will include Class A challengers Camden Hills of Rockport and Cony of Augusta and Class B rivals Calais, Fort Kent and Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor.
“He’s an amazing athlete on the football field and on the mat, and he’s a good friend,” Gross said of Boyd. “Win or lose, after the match we’re still going to be friends.”