“I think this is the first and only time this has happened in Milbank,” stated Milbank’s head wrestling coach, Jeremy Tostenson. “And in all my years of wrestling, I don’t believe I’ve heard of this happening anywhere else in the state of South Dakota.”
Tostenson is referring to the four Schneck brothers, sons of Brian and Sherri Schneck, who are all members of the Bulldogs varsity wrestling team. Dillon is a senior and wrestles at 160 pounds. Toby is a junior and a 182-pound wrestler, and Barrett is a freshman who wrestles at 132 pounds. When a slot needed to be filled in the Bulldog lineup at the 145-pound weight class this year, seventh-grader Jesse Schneck stepped up to varsity.
“It’s really been fun,” says Sherri. “You are more engaged when you can watch all your kids at the same time. It’s much easier than having to split up to watch middle school and high school separately.”
“We get teased that our boys make up half of the team,” she says with a laugh. Undoubtedly, that teasing is taken in stride as plenty of ribbing seems to go on at the Schneck’s house. If you drop by, be prepared to duck from all the good-natured barbs the boys are constantly throwing back and forth.
Although the brothers are connected by the sport, each has his own personality and unique style of wrestling. Sherri says, “Dillon is quiet at school, practice, and at home. For the most part, he just blends in. He tends to stay out of the others’ way.” Dillon defends himself by saying, “I like football better.” Despite his preference, Dillon achieved his season goal of qualifying for the state wrestling tournament this year.
“Toby is very competitive about everything,” says Sherri. His goal this season is to place at the state tournament.
“Barrett is the joker,” she says. “He is always messing around, laughing, and smiling. He has his dad’s personality. You never know what is going to happen when he wrestles.” Toby agrees, “Barrett gives up a lot of points, but he gets them back. He does a lot of funky stuff.” Barrett’s goal for this season is to go out and win it all.
As the youngest, Jesse says he is not intimidated when he’s with his brothers and teammates. “I’m so used to being beat up on by my brothers that it feels normal.” Brian and Sherri says Jesse most resembles Barrett in personality. “He’s always smiling, too, and he usually has something to say.”
According to Sherri, “Each of the boys started wrestling when they were about three years old. In fact, Jesse wrestled his first match in a diaper.” Brian coached each of them as they went through the Milbank youth wrestling program. (He continues to coach today.) During practices, he was able to focus more on the other young grapplers and help his children at home. “We decided to get our own mat for the boys, so when we were at home, I could take time to work with them on their skills,” he says.
When the Schneck boys are not working on half nelsons or escapes, you can find them working alongside their dad on the family farm. “When it’s wrestling season, that’s about all we do,” Brian says. “Any other time of the year, we farm.”
It takes a lot of food to feed a houseful of young boys, and buying wrestling shoes for all five boys each year is another big expense for the Schnecks. “Every year, Kyle (the family’s youngest son, who is in third grade) says he’s not going to wrestle,” says Sherri. “But then when he sees he gets a new pair of wrestling shoes, he’s okay with it.” Dillon and Toby don’t get too excited about their shoes, unlike Barrett, who takes his shoe obsession to a new level. “I customize my shoes during the off-season,” he says with a big grin. “I’m going to have my own brand of shoes someday.”
The brothers say several people, other than their parents, have nurtured their interest in wrestling and encouraged them to improve. Dillon feels the Bulldog’s assistant coach Jesse Krause has shaped him the most. Barrett attributes Coach T’s “pushing us” to his success. Toby agrees that both Coach T and Krause have been influential in his career, but he also appreciates the opponents he has wrestled against and learned from. Jesse thanks his practice partner, Brady Femling, for pushing him every day.
Another wrestler also has had an impact on the boys — Hunter Burnett, three-time Minnesota state champion and former Bulldog wrestler. Burnett, who is now the top wrestler at Augustana, “Hunter has taken time to work with the boys, especially Barrett,” Sherri says. “They have watched film together, and Hunter has given him lots of tips.” Hunter also took Barrett and Jesse to a takedown tournament in Litchfield, Minnesota. “Our team placed third,” says Barrett.
So, just when you start thinking the Schneck home is all kneepads, noise, testosterone, and training, Mae — the Schneck brothers’ two-year old sister — comes toddling into the room. She’s adorable and sweet, and you can tell she has her big brothers wrapped around her little finger. She has already mastered the ankle pick and single leg take down. Will Mae continue the family wrestling tradition? Keep following the Milbank grapplers to find out!
Pictured: Dillon, Toby, Barrett, and Jesse