NAVYSPORTS.COM - The Official Web Site of Naval Academy Varsity Athletics - Al Cantello Bio
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Mids qualify for national championship for second straight season


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Al Cantello is now in his 55th season at the Naval Academy and 50th 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 eight of the last nine Patriot League Championships from 2008-11 and 2013-16 while garnering conference coach of the year accolades each time.

In 49 seasons at the helm of the cross country program, Cantello boasts a 246-70-1 career record.
Cantello’s teams have also shined in the classroom as three squads have earned USTFCCCA All-Academic Cross Country Team accolades with a team GPA over 3.00 since 2011.

Cantello has coached several standout runners in Annapolis in both cross country and as an assistant coach with the Navy track team. Most recently, Lucas Stalnaker, class of 2017, earned back-to-back Patriot League individual titles in 2015 and 2016 before going on to finish fifth overall at the 10k at the 2017 NCAA Championship and garner a nod as a First Team All-American. Prior to that Stephen Schroeder, class of 2016, won the 2014 Patriot League individual title and qualified for that year’s NCAA Championship. Andrew Hanko, class of 2010, became the first runner in program history to win consecutive Patriot League cross country titles (2009, ’10). The three-time First-Team All-Patriot League honoree, also qualified for the 2010 NCAA Championship.

Additionally, 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.

Cantello’s most decorated runner was Ron Harris (’87), who was successful under Coach Cantello’s tutelage in both cross country and track and field. Harris garnered cross country All-America honors in 1985 and track and field All-America laurels in the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter run in 1987. Harris went on to qualify for the 1996 U.S. Olympic team in the 5,000-meter run.

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, `92 and ‘16) and has been Patriot League Coach of the Year each of the last four 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.

Cantello, a 1955 La Salle graduate, has spent over a half century at the Naval Academy and has served as the head coach of the men’s cross country team for the last 49 years. Over the course of his tenure, Cantello’s teams have beaten the archrival Black Knights 37 times in cross country and 12 times in track and field with him as the head coach (1981-1988). Cantello also has guided the Mids to eight Patriot League titles in the last nine seasons. Including his years as an assistant coach for the track and field team (1968-1980, 1989-pres.), he has accrued 98 wins versus Army.

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 322-82-2, good for a .796 career winning percentage.

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 was inducted to the USTFCCCA Coaches Hall of Fame on December 2013.

Cantello and his late wife, Jackie, are the parents of three adult children - Karla McMahon, Karen O’Kane and the late Albert Jr. - and seven grandchildren.
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