Gross announces season-ending back surgery

David Dermer/AP: South Dakota State’s Seth Gross, shown here celebrating after defeating Michigan’s Stevan Micic 13-8 in the 133-pound title bout at the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships on March 17 in Cleveland, announced on Twitter on Thursday that he is having back surgery and will miss the remainder of the season.

BROOKINGS – South Dakota State senior Seth Gross announced in a video on his verified Twitter account, @GodsWrestler133, that he is having season-ending back surgery on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately I will not be wrestling this year,” the defending national champion at 133 pounds said in the video, which was posted on Twitter at 6:27 p.m. Thursday. “… I will actually be undergoing surgery on Wednesday. After a lot of thought and consideration, I decided this is the best option moving forward for my future in the sport and outside the sport.

“My biggest goal is to be an Olympic and world champion, and to do that I feel this is something I need to deal with right now instead of prolonging the issue and making it worse.”

The 2-minute, 10-second video had well over 100,000 views as of Friday afternoon.

Gross said he had spondylosis in high school, which developed into spondylolisthesis last year.

“Which is where the vertebrae actually shifts and gets out of place, and it’s actually pinching on my discs and my nerves and causing some weakness to go down into my legs along with a lot of pain when I try to wrestle,” he added. “I just decided the best option is to take the surgical route to hopefully fix this problem.”

The surgery has a six-month recovery time, meaning Gross will not be able to wrestle freestyle this summer.

“I’m just taking this time to really try to get to my health; that’s my No. 1 concern right now is just to get as healthy as I can and build a strong base for when I do return to the sport,” Gross said.

Gross is a fifth-year senior and will try for a medical hardship, which would grant him a sixth year of eligibility if approved.

“A medical year is something that is never guaranteed,” he noted. “It doesn’t get decided until after the season so I’m hopeful that maybe I’ll get a chance in the NCAAs (in 2020), but if not I’ll be chasing my Olympic and world aspirations and competing on that level.”

Gross, a native of Apple Valley, Minn., originally attended Iowa, where he redshirted during the 2014-15 season.

He transferred to SDSU prior to the 2015-16 season.

Gross went 26-14 at 141 pounds as a freshman, placing second in the Big 12 Championships and reaching the Blood Round at the NCAA Division I Championships.

He dropped to the 133-pound weight class for his sophomore season and went 34-2, winning the Big 12 title and placing second at nationals, falling 4-3 to the Hawkeyes’ Cory Clark in the finals. He was named Most Outstanding Performer at the Big 12s.

Gross had a big season last year, posting a 29-1 record and claiming Big 12 and NCAA titles. He earned bonus points in 24 of his 29 victories and his lone loss was to the top-ranked wrestler at 141 pounds.

Gross took the mat in the Jackrabbits’ dual opener versus Arizona State on Nov. 11 at the Sanford Pentagon in Sioux Falls. He pinned Josiah Kline in 2:22.

That was his lone appearance of the 2018-19 campaign.

At SDSU, Gross has a record of 90-17 with 31 pins, 17 technical falls and 19 major decisions. He has an 8-1 record (6-0 at 133) in the Big 12 Championships and a 12-3 record (9-1 at 133) in the NCAA Division I Championships.

Gross is the only Division I national champion in any sport in South Dakota State history.

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