Al Cantello is now in his 51st season at the Naval Academy and 46th as cross country head coach. Since his arrival at U.S.N.A. over 50 years ago, the Midshipmen have been one of the most consistent men's cross country programs, both regionally and nationally.
Cantello led the Mids to four consecutive Patriot League Championships from 2008-11 while garnering conference coach of the year accolades each time.
In 45 seasons at the helm of the cross country program, Cantello boasts a 242-69-1 career record.
Cantello's teams have also shined in the classroom, as in each of the past three seasons the Mids earned USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team accolades with a team GPA over 3.00.
Cantello has coached several standout runners in Annapolis in both cross country and as an assistant coach with the Navy track team. Most recently, Andrew Hanko (2007-10) became the first runner in program history to win consecutive Patriot League cross country titles. The three-time First-Team All-Patriot League honoree was the first Midshipman to qualify for the NCAA Championship since 1999 and finished 119th at the 2010 NCAA Cross Country Championships.
Jon Clemens received All-America honors during the 1996 cross country season, while John Mentzer was named a 1997 All-American in both indoor (5,000 meters) and outdoor (10,000 meters) track. Michael Ryan earned similar honors during the 1999 indoor track season for his 4:01.57 time in the mile, and Erik Schmidt took fifth place in the mile at the NCAA Indoor Championship in March 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 team of Adams, Torrance Chaplin, Karlton Holston and Ryan was nationally ranked, as well.
As a result of his teams' success, Cantello has been amply recognized, including being named the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regional Coach of the Year three times (1984, `85 and `92) and has been Patriot League Coach of the Year each of the last three seasons. 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.
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. As Navy's head track coach, Cantello led the Mids to a 67-9-1 dual meet record. During the 1986-87 academic year, his combined record in cross country, indoor and outdoor track & field was a remarkable 23-1.
Cantello's all-time head coaching record in cross country, indoor and outdoor track is 318-81-2, good for a .796 career winning percentage. Among his victories are 46 N-Stars, including 35 as the head coach of the cross country program - more than any other Navy mentor in one sport. Cantello has authored the Mids to a 35-9-1 mark against Army, prior to which Navy held a 12-19 record against the Black Knights.
A 1955 graduate of La Salle, Cantello was a two-time All-American in the javelin throw. In 2009, he was inducted into the Penn Relays Wall of Fame for becoming the first three-time winner in the javelin throw at the famed event. He was also enshrined as a charter member of La Salle's Hall of Athletes in 1961 and in the spring of 2012, Cantello was inducted in the inaugural class of the Middle Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
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 competitor in the javelin.
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.