Schneider Heading West
By SETH SCHWARTZ
College decisions are never easy. That’s why it took Lane Tech College Prep’s Max Schneider two weeks before he committed to wrestle for Cal-Poly.
“It was very difficult,” said Schneider, who visited the San Luis Obispo campus in mid-April. “It was a stressful period choosing [between Illinois and Cal-Poly].
“I felt it was the right choice. I got along well with the coaches and the guys on the team. The setting there fit my personality. Having them offer [close to] a full ride helped [Illinois offered 50 percent].
“The views of the mountains there are awesome. We went surfing at the beach [six miles away]; it was a lot of fun.
“I like the feel of the university. My parents felt I’d have more success at Cal-Poly. I saw the kind of bills it cost for my sister [Eva] at Case Western and I didn’t want to add any more debt for my parents.”
Cal-Poly has 7.5 scholarships. Schneider will receive slightly over 90 percent [there’s a grant tied into living in the dorm] his freshman year and between 70-80 percent the following years.
Schneider figures to start at 149 or 157 pounds. The Mustang coaches said he would have the option to continue competing in judo if he wants to. Working with assistant Jamill Kelly should assist his transition to the college style.
“I am confident on my feet,” he said. “I need to be more proactive on the mat and on top.”
After the Schneider family and Lane coach Mark Miedona had dinner with Illinois coach Jim Heffernan at Tavern on Rush, it appeared he was heading to Champaign.
“At that time I thought he would go to Illinois,” said Miedona. “Cal-Poly kept calling and I said, ‘Why don’t you go out there and check it out.’”
Schneider flew out to Cal-Poly the next week and Mustang coach Brendan Buckley came in the following week and took the family out to Rosebud on Taylor Street.
“I think Cal-Poly did a great job with him at the school,” said Miedona. “They had the president of the school call him on his cell phone, they took him surfing and out to nice restaurants. The coach told him he thought he could be a national champion.”
In the past two decades, no Illinois wrestler has dominated taking state titles without training year-round. With powerful hips and an uncanny feel for positions, most figure he’ll continue to flourish at the college level. The west-coast style might be more suitable for Schneider than the weekly grind and pounding of the Big 10.
Cornell was very interested in Schneider, who is carrying a 2.9 GPA, 24 ACT and three honors classes, and asked him to attend their summer camp, but he wasn’t interested. Northwestern was interested, but he was just a hair short academically.
Following Schneider’s state championship this season, Penn State’s Cael Sanderson called and offered 35 percent scholarship, but Schneider felt he was the school’s second option. He visited Nebraska and was offered 35 percent.
Leyden athletic director Randy Conrad marveled at Schneider’s state tournament performances.
“There’s no question Max has an abundance of talent and skill,” said Conrad, a state champion on the 1978 Leyden squad, two-time All-American at Iowa State.
“The California style might fit him better. Illinois lost one of the best that’s for sure; it doesn’t help us. He can be a national champion there if his heart is set on it.”
Conrad sees parallels to Leyden two-time state champion Bob Holland [1972-73] who attended Iowa State and lost in the NCAA finals as a freshman to Michigan’s two-time champion Jarrett Hubbard [a Joliet West graduate] 14-7 at 150 pounds.
“Once he grabs you, you can’t get away. His balance, ability not to let go of an opponent and dictate the match are unique and not often seen,” said Conrad.
“Max proved everyone wrong with his own skill level. His body fits wrestling so well, it looks like it came easy for him. Nobody held him down. That balance and hidden strength come from the core which gives him the ability to hit the firemans and pulling type of throws.
“I think he’ll do fine [in college]. He’s really beaten the odds. Nobody thought a kid wrestling in Chicago would beat the kids he did and he did it all four years.”
Weight of scholarship money tends to tip the balance.
“When a school is willing to give [close to] a full ride the commitment means so much,” said Conrad.
Oak Park coach Mike Powell thinks there’s a bright future for Schneider.
“I’ve never seen a guy with his hips; he’s a once in a generation talent,” said Powell. “He can switch his hips, the power and flexibility and coordination he has; he’s a freak. He’s a world class talent.
“Every time he wrestles, he surprises me; you forget how good he is. The better the competition, the better he wrestles. Cal-Poly is the right place for him. It’s a more open style of wrestling.”
For blue-chippers, the learning curve is trying. How he adapts to mat wrestling will play a big part on his progression.
“There’s a risk-reward scenario in every kid,” said Sandburg coach Eric Siebert. “Anybody who has world-class talent like him is worth the risk.”
Congrats to Max. He really brought excitement to Illinois high school wrestling. It's a shame Illinois didn't offer him full ride, they should have.
9.9 scholarships limit the coaches big time. A lot of folks don't understand that in wrestling, most Big Ten schools are only giving 1/3 rides. This is the norm, not the exception. Look at most rosters for Big Ten teams, they usually hover around 30-33 wrestlers. At the D1 level, who is going to walk-on and stay for 4yrs? The great majority of these wrestlers are getting 30-40%. As a coach, you gotta spread those 9.9 scholarships out. The difference between wrestling and, say, football, is immense. If any wrestler, no matter who it is, gets a full-ride offer, they had better seriously consider it because it is not a common thing at all.
Congratulations to Max, a dear friend of our program. We're excited to see how you ascend up the rankings and medal stand in the coming years with Coach Buckley at Cal-Poly!
I don't know all the ins and outs of college scholarships but Cal Poly found a way to give 100%. I would think the Illinois would save a few full rides for potential superstars. Anyway don't want to dwell on this. Congrats.
It sucks that we couldn't keep Max in state. I think he is going to be an awesome college wrestler. But I'm more upset about losing guys like McMurtry and Reel...these guys got offers that IL likely could have matched and they are going elsewhere.
Just because Illinois matches an offer doesn't mean a kid is going to go there. I think a lot of Illinois people think it's a local guy's "duty" to go to Illinois but I can tell you that is not how a high school kid feels. Kids go where they feel most comfortable, where they think they can get in the lineup, and a lot of time that isn't Illinois. This isn't supposed to be a knock on Illinois btw.
I think this is where a lot of people arent fully informed on how scholarships work. I am sure some of the information I have is not accurate, but it might at least give some a little more education on the issue. Like it has been mentioned, wrestling gets 9.9, and I believe they can break that up however they want. So, some schools like to give a few full rides to some top level recruits so that they get them into their program, and then fill the roster using the rest of the scholarship money and hoping for walk ons. This method can work better at some schools than others. The problem with this method is that is may lead to a lack of depth, and if one of the top guys gets hurt or doesnt pan out, there is a lot of money invested in someone who is not helping the program.
A lot of wrestling programs generally use the 9.9 and spread it out amongst, maybe, 20 different guys. So perhaps they give a top recruit 60%, and then two others 20%, using up one scholarship that way. A lot of schools have been highly successful using this method because it generally provides depth in the room, competition for spots, and a continued level of success.
I understand the arguments of both sides on this issue. Some program want 5-6 top level guys, which helps them perform pretty well in big tournaments and keeps them relatively competitive in duals. Using that method has worked for teams in the past. Others want 20-25 "top level" guys around their program and try to spread out their scholarships accordingly. I suppose it depends on the program and the wants/desires of the head coach and how he envisions the best way to build his program.
Wrestling is different than football and I believe basketball as far as scholarships. To the best of my knowledge, those two sports can ONLY give full-ride scholarships. So football gets 85 scholarships, and those go to 85 players. There is no such thing as partial scholarships in some college sports (I believe volleyball, womens basketball, mens basketball and football...maybe others). So every football player you see on TV playing college ball is on a full ride, basically, including the punter, 4th string QB, etc. That is not the case for wrestling. Even the best guys in the country, 4 time all americans, arent always on full rides.
Take a look at Penn St, for example. Ruth, Molinaro, Taylor, Wright, Alton, Alton, Megaludis, McIntosh......that is 8 guys right there. 8 fairly top level athletes. If they were giving them all full rides, they would only have 1.9 scholarships left to recruit with, especially considering the only one of those guys graduating is Molinaro, and Wright is the only Junior, and that is not even taking into account the rest of the team. So, in order to have depth like that and a team like that in college wrestling, you almost have to break the scholarships up quite a bit.
Congratulations To Max, he is a A great kid. He spent some time talking to my son in champaign this year. This is definitely not the post to complain or bash colleges for not offering better. This is about Max and the choice he made to further his career. Looking forward to following his career in college.
I also thought it was nice to hear a kid say I didnt want to put anymore financial burden on my parents. Good luck to you Max. Im sure you will represent Illinois wrestling well out there.
Wow that is an cool change of pace for an Illinois kid. San Luis Obispo is one of the absolute coolest areas in the US...... Don't let the secret out....more IL kids will be going out that way and their parents will LOVE the vacations to come visit their kids!
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