A mainstay with the men's track & field program, Al Cantello enters his 50th year of coaching at the Naval Academy. Cantello specializes in the distance area and is also Navy's head men's cross country coach.
During the 2011-12 season, Cantello's distance runners combined to win nine Patriot League individual and relay events. Additionally, Ken Bunnell (steeplechase) and Cody Rome (5,000m) both placed in the top 25 at the NCAA's East Regional Championship.
Cantello helped Navy's men's indoor track and field team win the team title in 2011 by taking first place in the mile, 3,000m, 5,000m, and distance medley relay. During the outdoor season, Cantello's distance runners won the 1,500m, 5,000m, 3,000m steeplechase and Andrew Hanko won the IC4A Outdoor 5K title.
Following the 2009-10 season, Cantello was named the U.S. Track & Field and Cross County Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Mid-Atlantic Region Assistant Coach of the Year. He led the 2009 Navy cross country team to a Patriot League Championship and four distance runners earned All-East honors at the IC4A Indoor Championships.
Cantello also remains the guiding force for the Navy men's cross country program, which he has helped mold into one of the most consistent teams nationally since being named head coach 43 years ago. Navy won four of the last five Patriot League Cross Country Championships and Cantello is a four-time league cross country coach of the year each of the past four seasons.
With an all-time record of 241-69-1 (.775), Cantello has coached several standout runners during his tenure in Annapolis. Jon Clemens received All-America honors during the 1996 cross country season, while John Mentzer was named a 1997 All-American in both the 5,000m and 10,000m. Michael Ryan earned similar honors in 1999 for his 4:01.57 time in the mile, and Erik Schmidt took fifth in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championship in March of 2003.
In addition, two of Navy's distance relay teams were ranked among the nation's top 15 during the 1999 outdoor campaign. The mile relay team of Eric Adams, John McNamara, Ryan Runge and Ryan was fourth in the nation, while the distance medley relay squad of Adams, Torrance Chaplin, Karlton Holston and Ryan was nationally ranked, as well.
As a result of his team's successes, Cantello has been amply recognized, including being named the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year three times (1984, '85 and '92). In 1997, the Naval Academy Alumni Association awarded Cantello the Distinguished Athletic Leadership Award for a coach or faculty member who did the most for the physical development of the Midshipmen in physical education. Cantello also received the inaugural Tom Hamilton Teaching/ Coaching Award, as voted by his peers that same year. Additionally, this past spring Cantello, one of only two three-time winners of the javelin throw in the Penn Relays, was among the 16th group of inductees to the Penn Relays Wall Of Fame.
From 1981-88, Cantello held a dual coaching role, guiding Navy's men's indoor and outdoor track squads while maintaining his cross country duties. Cantello owns a stellar .794 all-time winning percentage with over 300 victories as a head coach in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. Among his coaching triumphs are 46 N-Stars, including 35 in cross country - the most by a Navy coach in one sport.
A 1955 graduate of La Salle, Cantello was a two-time All-American in the javelin. He was enshrined as a charter member of La Salle's Hall of Athletes in 1961. Cantello is also a charter member of the Middle Atlantic Conference (MAC) Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2012.
A former world-class competitor in the javelin, Cantello once held every national and international record in the event. In 1959, he set a world record in the javelin and competed for the U.S. Olympic Team the following year in the 1960 Games in Rome. In 1964, Sport Magazine named Cantello to its all-time track & field team and voted him the world's greatest javelin competitor.
Cantello and his wife, Jackie, are the parents of three adult children - Karla McMahon, Karen O'Kane and the late Albert Jr. - and seven grandchildren.
Cantello will be inducted to the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame in December 2013.