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.”
Last edited by admin; 05-03-2012 at 12:25 PM.