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Schneid’s legacy will last forever in W.Va. Coaches HOF

I remember it like it was yesterday.

I am junior high student at the Shadyside Relays and a shirt that a Magnolia athlete was wearing caught my attention. It read, “pain is temporary … Schneid is forever.”

At that point, I knew only that Craig Schneid was the head coach of the Blue Eagles boys track and field program. As I became more and more involved with track and field, following the sport extremely closely did I fully grasp the meaning of the shirt.

Now, more than 25 years later, Schneid’s impact on Blue Eagle track and field as well as the entire state of West Virginia proves that aforementioned t-shirt to be true.

Schneid racked up 10 state titles, including nine with the Blue Eagles. during a coaching career that spanned upwards of four decades.

“Like anything else, I am not any smarter than anyone else,” Schneid said. “It was all about getting the kids out. We were able to recruit kids (in the hallway) to come out and we kept it going.”

Everything came full circle earlier this month when Schneid was inducted into the West Virginia Schools Athletic Coaches Hall of Fame during a ceremony held in conjunction with the North-South Games in Charleston.

Schneid formally learned of his accolade in May. Actually, he got the information from his son, Aaron, who was a member of the Wheeling Central squad that Schneid coached to a Class A state championship, which proved to be Schneid’s final ring.

“A coach at University High School found out about and word got back to my son,” Schneid said. “The induction was a really nice affair. I thought, at some point, I might have a chance, but when you’re talking about all sports, across the state, it’s pretty tough.”

As he spoke during the induction and then again to me earlier in the week, Schneid took a trip down memory lane, which when you’ve won 10 state titles, coached 42 individual state champions as well as 28 relay teams to a gold medal, memory lane is quite long.

“Magnolia used to be a lot bigger (in terms of enrollment) than what people think or realize,” Schneid said. “We were probably about the size of Bellaire and Martins Ferry back then and we had a really good run of athletes. Football had a good run of athletes, basketball came along and just getting the kids out was so important. I can honestly count, on one hand, the number of kids that I talked to, in class or the hallway about track, that didn’t come out.”

Without a track of its own to practice on, Magnolia climbed to the top of the West Virginia track and field mountain for the first time in 1991 with Kent Pilant leading the way.

The 1992 championship was one that Schneid may be still trying to figure out how it happened. The Blue Eagles saved the best for last, scoring 38 points in the meet’s final three events to edge Doddridge Co.

“We weren’t the favorites the first year and then the way we won it the second year really stick with me,” Schneid said. “The first year was a total surprise.”

The Blue Eagles proceeded to win again in 1993 and at that point, the Wetzel County Schools installed a track complex.

“After we got the track, it was Katy bar the door,” Schneid pointed out. “Kids saw that brand new track, and instead of getting on the bus to go home, they just came down to the track.”

Magnolia added to its title collection with championships in 1995 and 96 and then it was three years before they claimed the top prize again. However, it didn’t slow down when it returned to the top of the podium.

With guys like Matt Quinett and Josh Watson leading the way, Magnolia won four consecutive titles from 1999-2002. Quinett, who later won a state title as the Magnolia head coach, was part of all four of those teams before going on for a successful distance career at Alderson-Broaddus.

“Matt was the hardest worker I’ve ever been around,” Schneid said. “I would send him on an easy, six-mile run and he’d be back in 36 minutes or so. I’d say, “Matt, it was supposed to be easy.”

The 1999 squad which was led by Watson, who is a member of the OVAC Hall of Fame, was maybe the best team Schneid ever coached.

“We had a pre-season meeting in 1999 and I told the principal that we were coming back from Charleston with either a trophy or my resignation,” Schneid joked. “We won that meet by 55 points. It was like going all-in with four kings in your hand.”

Schneid’s teams weren’t just strong in the field or in the sprints or in distance. The Blue Eagles had true track and field teams, racking up points all over the place during the course of the meet.

“We had a tremendous cross country program under Wayne Fetty, so we were getting a lot of distance kids,” Schneid said. “We got a lot of points in the sprints. Guys like Josh Natali and Jeff LeMasters were really good in the sprints. Actually, Natalli was the high-scorer in the state meet two years in a row.”

Schneid also coached Mike Barrows, who graduated in 1997. He was the first high jumper in West Virginia history to clear the coveted 7-foot barrier. Further proving the well-roundedness of the Blue Eagles, Schneid coached at least one state champion in every event except pole vault.

Schneid always believed his teams were as well prepared as anyone in the field at Laidley Field in late May because of the competition his team saw during the course of the season.

“I would put kids in my car and we took them places,” Schneid said. “Bellaire Relays always fell on our prom weekend, but we took kids up early, they’d compete and we’d have them back in time. The two meets we looked forward to, other than the state meet, were the Shadyside Relays and the OVAC. To us, the regional meet was just a qualifier.”

Along with great athletes, Schneid pointed out the help he received along the way from Pilant, who came back to serve as an assistant, and the late Chuper Robinson, who was an outstanding athlete on Schneid’s early teams that ran a sub 2-minute 800 and a 50-flat 400.

“When Kent and Chuper came back (to help), that was the biggest key,” Schneid said. “I wasn’t a total commander by any means. We had a good time as a staff and with the kids, but when it was time to get down to working hard, we worked hard.”

Schneid, who is a 1973 graduate of St. John Central and a 1977 graduate of West Liberty State College, accepted the job at Wheeling Central and took the Knights to the 2008 title.

“Coaching my son was exciting and he finished second in the shot and third in the disc as a freshman that season, so that was exciting,” Schneid said. “The next year, I thought we should have won again, but we threw away 25 points and lost by won. That 2009 meet was one of the few times I felt like my team had a bad meet.”

Schneid held the Maroon Knights post for five seasons before he shifted back to an assistant coaching role.

Schneid wrapped up his coaching career in 2019 and was adamant that he’s coached his last track and field team.

HUNTER ARMSTRONG COMING TO BELMONT COUNTY

Olympic and World Swimming Championship Gold Medalist Hunter Armstrong, who is a graduate of Dover High School, is making an appearance at Barnesville’s Memorial Park on Thursday, July 7 with gates opening at 6 p.m. All area youth swimmers are invited to attend. The only cost to attend is all are asked to bring a non-perishable food item for a donation to an area food bank. Armstrong will speak about his Olympic and World Championship experiences and be available for photographs and autographs afterward. Swimmers are then invited to swim at the pool following the presentation.

SETH’S SCOOPS

PRETTY COOL to see Linsly graduate Warren Saunders was promoted to AAA Syracuse by the New York Mets this past week.

FOUR AREA baseball players – Bryce Amos (Shadyside), Kyvan Johnson (Barnesville), Colby Shriver (Martins Ferry) and Colin Snedeker (Martins Ferry) took part in the prestigious Ohio Baseball Coaches Association All-Ohio Series All-Star Games on Wednesday at Ohio State University’s Bill Davis Stadium. All four players were part of the “Gray” squad, which went 1-1 on the day. Amos and Shriver each fanned three in their mound appearance and the latter drove in a run. Martins Ferry head coach Anthony Reasbeck was a member of the coaching staff.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE sophomore Braylon Blomquist took part in the Ohio High School Baseball Coaches Association’s Uncommitted Underclass Showcase, which was held on Tuesday at Ohio State.

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