PETOSKEY — Eero Gross is a beast.
Wait, there’s a typo in that first sentence. He’s the Beast.
The Petoskey standout wrestler who won 36 matches this season and played Beast in the school’s Beauty and the Beast play is headed to Wabash College.
“Eero all around is a really good kid,” Wabash assistant wrestling coach Lincoln Kyle said. “This is what we look for. He may not have met his goals in high school, but he had over 100 career wins in a pretty good wrestling state.”
The Northman grappler posted 129 victories in high school to only 39 defeats, earning All-Big North Conference this year at 160 pounds with a perfect 4-0 league mark in his weight class.
Gross, a three-sport athlete at Petoskey who also played football and ran track, said the classroom played an even bigger role in his decision than the wrestling room.
“Academics was a really big part of my decision,” Gross said. “I take academics really seriously. I was looking more at Division 3 schools because I thought I could balance academics and wrestling.”
The two-time Big North Conference champion and three-time regional qualifier also participated in choir and earned academic all-state in both football and wrestling.
Wabash, an all-male liberal arts school in Crawfordsville, Indiana, is ranked as one of the top colleges in America by both U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review. Gross said he plans to major in biology and minor in education in order to become either a chiropractor or teacher.
“The wrestling program for me is icing on the cake,” Gross said.
Only three of 49 wrestlers on last year’s Little Giants team hail from Michigan, and none were from the northern half of the state.
Wabash head coach Brian Anderson turned the Little Giants into a Division 3 power since his hire in 2004-05, placing in the top nine nationally every year from 2015-19 (the 2020 finals were canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic). Six Giants wrestlers earned national titles in that time, and 17 claimed All-America honors.
“He kills it in the classroom,” Kyle said of Gross, who has a 3.93 GPA. “You can build a lot with an athlete with those characteristics — hard work, dedication, a willingness to learn.”
The Giants posted a 38-0 match record at home since the 2011-12 campaign and concluded the 2019-20 season ranked No. 4 nationally.
Gross, whose father Nate served as Petoskey head coach until announcing his retirement at the Northmen banquet this year, also looked at Olivet College, John Carroll University, Alma College and Washington & Jefferson in Pennsylvania.