MOORHEAD, Minn. – During the 2009 offseason, the Dragons new era under new head coach Kris Nelson began with a few other new faces, including an unpolished transfer from neighboring NCAA Division-I North Dakota State Brady Schneeberger. By the end of the 2009-10 season, the Dragons had a true champion who has one more step to take in his collegiate career.
Brady came to the Bison after posting 184 career wins at West Central Area High School, including a Class A championship in 2006. As a freshman, Schneeberger posted 12 wins but only competed in five matches as a sophomore. Looking to prove himself Brady jumped the Red River, joining former assistant coach Nelson as new members of the Dragons.
Schneeberger posted an even 17-17 record, including winning eight of his first 10 matches. After hitting a rut following his first Dragon Open as a member of MSUM, Schneeberger caught fire in February, topping it all off with a classic confrontation with then No. 1 ranked Jay Sherer from Augustana.
Schneeberger, given the sixth seed in the regionals, became the only wrestler not given the top seed to become the regional champion by pinning Sherer with 15 seconds remaining in regulation. At the time, it was proof that where someone is at the beginning means nothing in the end.
“Last year was an up and down year for me but heading into the regionals I knew I could match up with everyone,” Schneeberger said. ”I never counted myself out even though a lot of people did.“ The season ended at nationals as Brady came up short, but watching how it all ended fueled the drive with in the regional champion for his last season.
“After watching Jay [Sherer] head to nationals and become national champion after I just beat him really hurt, Schneeberger said. “After that I knew that if he could do it, there is no reason why I can’t make it to the top myself.” Schneeberger once again beat the odds this season, by defeating Jay Sherer once again on the national champions’ home mat.
While knowing he had control of each outcome match in and match out, sitting on the sidelines following an injury sustained at a dual at Mary University was a tougher sight to bear.
“It was really tough on me,” Schneeberger said. “Up until that point I was feeling really good and felt like I was starting to peak then that had to happen. It was really hard to sit on the sidelines and watch all those close duals, knowing I could have been that guy that could’ve made the difference.”
With the region now expanding to 11 teams, the road only got tougher for Schneeberger. The long awaited respect for Schneeberger was shown after he broke into the national rankings, where he currently sits at No. 3 in the nation. Schneeberger is out to prove he belongs as one of the NCAA’s elite. Part of that means going through a gauntlet schedule.
“When you get to nationals you’re wrestling the best every single match,” Schneeberger said. “If you have a weak schedule you’re not going to be prepared for that. I won’t be doubting myself because I’ve gone up against some of the toughest wrestlers in the country.” Part of Brady’s dedication is attributed to his parents, Dean and Gail Schneeberger.
“They’ve been making it to just about every match since I started back in second grade,” Schneeberger said. “Now I’m in my fifth year of college wrestling and they are still right there. I don’t know what they are going to do after this is all over.”
Schneeberger has lead his teammates by a quiet example, but when the post season arrives, his last order of business will be capturing that national championship and once again, silencing his critics.