A year’s worth of dedication culminated in a euphoric celebration for Jake Schneider.
The MacArthur sophomore captured a Nassau County wrestling title in the 126-pound weight class with a dominating 8-0 victory against Baldwin’s Matt Kong at LIU-Post’s Pratt Center on Feb. 10. Schneider was more than ready for his championship moment after falling to Wantagh’s Josiah Encarnacion in the 106-pound finals last winter.
“I had sleepless nights almost every night from the day after the county tournament,” said Schneider, who will next compete at the New York State wrestling championships in Albany this weekend. “Now I finally did it.”
Schneider took command early with a first period takedown and was never threatened by Kong while holding him scoreless for the six-minute match. The championship bout was Schneider’s third decisive victory in the counties, which included a 10-2 semifinal win against Wantagh’s Bobby Moore. He also defeated Michael Rosen of Plainedge 9-0 in the quarterfinals as part of his county championship journey.
“You can never count him out of anything,” said 10th-year MacArthur head coach Rob Paletta. “He has battled guys all year.”
Moments after capturing the county title, Schneider embraced his older brother Stephen, who was MacArthur’s last state wrestling champion in 2014 before competing on the collegiate level at Binghamton. He also hugged former Generals’ wrestler Ryan Donohue, who is a close family friend of the Schneiders.
“They let me to this moment ever since I lost,” Schneider said. “Every day they worked with me and made me who I am today and the wrestler I am today.”
Schneider has been on a mission all season with his county championship improving his record to 36-6. The title also brought joy Coach Paletta, who has had a front row view of Schneider’s determination to rise to the top of the mountain since first making varsity as an eighth grader.
“He has worked his way up from last year getting to the finals almost out of nowhere and then being one of the top contenders this year,” said Paletta, a former MacArthur wrestling standout who was a runner-up in the 1991 county finals. “He is a good hard-working kid who has a blue collar way of doing it.”
Four Generals overall earned All-County honors led by Schneider at the top of the podium and freshman Killian Foy, who placed second at 99-pounds. Sophomore Matt Huggard and junior Dylan Young both finished sixth in the 99 and 170-pound weight classes, respectively. MacArthur came in seventh place in the team standings with 104 points.
Schneider now turns his attention toward the New York State championships scheduled for Feb. 22-23 at the Times-Union Center in Albany. He will hit the mats in a competitive 126-pound weight class, but is determined to create new championship memories.
“My goal is to be a state champion,” Schneider said. “It is achievable so now I just have to train hard every day until that moment happens.”