Champion wrestler Paul Gross to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
Editor’s note: This is the third installment of a 17-part series chronicling the 2018 Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame inductees. Check back to The Union sports pages each day for a new profile on a Nevada Union legend.
Hard work leads to good things.
But, you don’t have to tell that to Paul Gross. He knows.
Gross, a 1999 Nevada Union graduate and four-year varsity wrestler, put in the time, effort and hard work necessary to achieve his goals and what he got out of it was league championships, section titles, a path to the college of his choice and plenty of life lessons.
“Once you step on the mat, it’s really all about the work you put in beforehand and I really enjoyed that aspect of it,” Gross said. “I liked that it was one-on-one, and that it’s a really tough sport. If it wasn’t such a tough sport, it wouldn’t be as gratifying.”
Gross found a lot of gratification on the mat. The gifted grappler was a standout on very talented Miners wrestling teams, winning individual Sac-Joaquin Section championships in 1998 and 1999, qualifying for the State Championships four times and earning top-four finishes twice, and helping his team to four straight league titles. In addition to winning the 125-pound section title in 1999, Gross placed second at the state championships and was named a High School All-American.
For his prowess on the mat, Gross will be inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 28.
Despite all his high school wrestling accolades, when Gross looks back on his time with the Miners, it’s the relationships with his teammates and coaches that stick out above all else.
“I remember being a team member, just being with my teammates and my coaches,” he said. “It was like being part of a family. We were really tight. I just remember having a lot of fun during my wrestling years at NU.”
Growing up in Penn Valley, Gross’ passion for wrestling started long before he was a Miner, though. He was first drawn to the sport as a kid by his older brother James, a Sac-Joaquin Section champion as well.
“My brother was a natural athlete and very talented, where as I had to work a lot harder. I was not as talented or as much of a natural athlete as he was,” said Gross, adding that he greatly benefited from the many hours he spent working with his brother. “He may have been my best coach. He knew how to teach me because he was my brother and knew what I was capable of. He may not have been the most skilled coach then, but he was the most effective.”
Gross said in addition to his brother, there were several coaches that aided him along the way including Martin Vogt, Chuck Smith, Steve Pilcher, Brett Fariss, Gary Sumner, Terry Mayfield, Jay Wilcox and his father David, who was a big supporter and drove him and his brother all over the state and country for various tournaments.
All of Gross’ hard work in high school paid off as his ability on the mat, as well as in the classroom, earned him a scholarship to attend and wrestle at Stanford University.
“I knew wrestling would help me get into a college of my choice,” Gross said. “That was always my end game.”
While at Stanford, Gross wrestled all four years, placing fourth in the Pac-10 in his weight class in his senior year and qualifying for the NCAA Championships.
“I had a lot of pins in my college career,” he said. “I either pinned my opponent or my opponent pinned me.”
Gross graduated from Stanford with a degree in communications. He went on to get his teaching credential from Western Governors University. He has since moved back to Nevada County, where he works as a teacher at Seven Hills Middle School. He has also done some coaching at Nevada Union as well.
Gross is happily married to his wife Jenna, and has two young children Ruby, 3, and Grayson, 1.
“Life is what you make of it and you definitely learn that as a wrestler,” said Gross. “The more work you put into something, the more you get out of it.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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