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COACH OF THE YEAR | Montour Cross Country Coach leads teams to state championships

Members of the Montour Cross Country teams pose for pictures with the school's trophy.
“Success breeds determination and commitment.”

– Robert Naylor, Montour cross country and track coach

By Lori Altmeyer

Montour’s cross country season couldn’t have run a better course with WPIAL placements, girls third and boys seventh place finishes at States and a ‘Coach of the Year’ nod.

Coach Robert Naylor was one of seven coaches named PIAA’s Coach of the Year for the 2021-2022 cross country season on Oct. 18.

“This recognition is about all the kids and parents that have allowed me to create a program that can be competitive every season. It’s about recognizing what type of runners you have, the timeline you have to work with, and where you want the team to peak,” said Naylor.

“The bar has risen every season and our expectations are always to compete and be the best in section, top the WPIAL and get both teams into PIAA.”

Coach Naylor with Montour Senior Lakyn Schaltenbrand at state championships.

This season, the varsity teams did just that.

The Lady Spartans brought home the WPIAL trophy for the second year in a row. They also placed third overall at the PIAA state championships after winning the Cal U Marty Uher Cross Country and placing second at the PIAA Foundation Cross Country invitationals. The girls were also named Section Champs – undefeated for the third year in a row – and MAC Champs.

With most of the key runners returning from last year, the varsity boys team showed growth, placing runners-up in the Section (7-1).

They also won the Cal U Invitational and MAC Champs while placing fourth in the WPIAL.

In their first year qualifying for states, the varsity boys placed seventh and Junior Julian Kletz received a medal, a first for Montour.

A quick survey of team parents notes that the teams consist of some of the hardest-working young athletes, whose recognitions are well-deserved.

Training is a six-month adventure as a team, said coach Naylor. Their unity and being there for one another is incredible to watch as these athletes continue to push through their limits by beating personal records as well as holding school records for Montour.

Varsity Girls Captain Harley Kletz, runners-up for both WPIAL and PIAA meets this year, signed with Lipscomb University in Tennessee, earning an athletic scholarship for a Division-1 team in the fall. Senior Lakyn Schaltenbrand medaled at WPIAL and PIAA meets for Montour cross country as well.

Last season, the girls ran the table by winning all invitationals; Section Champs, MAC Champs, WPIAL Champs and PIAA Champs.

For the first time in school history, the 2021 girls team won both the WPIAL and PIAA titles in the same season. Even though the girls had a legitimate chance to repeat the previous season they dealt with injuries and sickness all season long.

Three years ago they missed participating in the PIAA because of COVID-19 restrictions, even though they were runners-up at WPIAL and held an undefeated streak in section competition.

What will next season bring?

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