All Harry S Truman wrestler Gunnar Fuss had wanted to do in the last two years was get accepted to Columbia University. He fell in love with the school during a visit in his junior year.
But after taking the SAT last spring, Fuss was told that the Columbia wrestling coaches wanted his scores to be a little higher. So last summer, instead of heading down the Shore, Fuss set his alarm clock for 7 o’clock most mornings and practiced taking the SAT.
“I was just so determined to get into Columbia. I just loved the school,” said Fuss, who is ranked first in District 1 at 132 pounds by PA-Wrestling.com. “I knew I needed to get my SAT scores up to be a shoo-in. I was willing to do anything to get in.”
The result was that his scores got worse. So, for Fuss’ final attempt at the SAT this past fall, he took another approach. Instead of burning himself out, Fuss didn’t study. He said the classes he had in the beginning of his senior year -- physics and calculus -- were enough to prepare him.
And it worked as Fuss posted his best scores.
“You wouldn’t think it would work, not studying,” Fuss said. “But resting your mind a little bit paid off in the end because I was stressed way too much trying to get my scores up. So I took a step back and hopefully let the scores come to me.”
Fuss found out he was accepted at Columbia and into the wrestling program while he was on a recruiting trip to another school in October. Fuss and his family were sitting in traffic when his latest SAT scores were delivered. So Fuss forwarded them to the Columbia coaches and, within a couple of hours, he was on the team.
The family celebrated with a shopping trip.
“The second my coach [from Columbia] offered me a spot, my mom bought tons of Columbia apparel for me to wear,” he said. “I have drawers of Columbia stuff now that I wear at least twice a week to school.”
Truman coach Jesse Dunn recalled a conversation he had with Fuss before the start of his high school career. Dunn asked Fuss what he wanted out of his time at Truman. Fuss said he wanted to appear in the PIAA state tournament and then get accepted into an Ivy League school.
So far, so good. Fuss was eighth in the state tournament last year and may be on his way back this year. And Columbia is already in the bag.
“That’s really hard to find in a young athlete,” Dunn said, “somebody who knows what they want and that is willing to put in all the work that is required to reach those levels of success. And he’s done it since day one.”
Fuss, the first person in his family to attend an Ivy League school, said his parents have had the most influence on his work ethic. They helped him develop it at a young age, he said.
“If you push yourself early on, you’ll make it a habit to keep pushing yourself,” Fuss said.
Now that Fuss has his college plans worked out, he can focus on wrestling. The three-time Suburban One League and District 1 champion said he won’t settle for anything less than a 132-pound state championship.