It was announced on Wednesday, that Aaron Lanzel, a 2003 USNA graduate and decorated Midshipmen athlete, has been hired as the head coach of the Navy’s men’s cross country program in advance of the 2018 season.
No stranger to the program, Lanzel competed for the Midshipmen cross country and track and field teams during his time as an undergrad (1999-2003) before joining the United States Navy in the aviation community.
“It is humbling to know so many of the countless competitors and brothers that have been a part of this program, and now it is an honor to come back to continue the traditions and principles that Coach Cantello established in his tenure,” remarked Lanzel. “I couldn’t be more excited to stoke the competitive fires of future Navy runners.”
“Coach Lanzel has a very storied and successful history at the Academy and in the Navy,” said Chet Gladchuk, Navy’s Director of Athletics. “As one of our finest graduates, he has distinguished himself in every endeavor. A champion competitor, an excellent assistant coach under Al Cantello, an accomplished officer, and one of the finest athletes to have ever competed for the Blue and Gold. Aaron has the enthusiastic support of Coach Cantello to be his successor, and I am very proud to invite him back to his alma mater to lead our men to continued great success for many years to come.”
Lanzel was an accomplished student-athlete for the Midshipmen beginning with his freshman season of action in the Fall of 1999 with the cross country team. A distance specialist, he’d ply his craft with both the cross country and track and field programs in Annapolis all four years. The captain of the 2002 cross country team and 2003 outdoor track and field team, Lanzel competed 11 times versus Army in Star Meets and came away with a 9-2 record. His name still appears in the Navy track and field record books as a member of the fastest indoor distance medley relay team in history (9:39.17 – 3/3/2002), as well as holding a top-10 time in the outdoor 1,500 meters (3:44.25 – 4/11/2003). He concluded his intercollegiate career at Navy by collecting the Class of 2003 Naval Academy Athletic Association Sword. The sword is given to the individual who contributed the most to athletics during their four years at the Naval Academy.
After graduation, Lanzel was commissioned as a pilot in the U.S. Navy. Serving from 2004 through 2010, he completed flight training and was a pilot and Mission Commander of the P-3C Orion aircraft. He was deployed to both the Pacific and the Middle East with the majority of his time spent in Iraq, where he completed 99 combat missions.
In addition to his service with the United States Navy, Lanzel, a sub-4:00 miler, was able to make time to compete in national track and field events. At the 2004 USATF Indoor National Championships, he finished fifth overall at 1500 meters, though his crowning achievement in national competition was earning his way into the semifinals of the 2004 Olympic Trials for the United States in the same event. He is one of just 11 USNA graduates to have competed in either the Olympics or Olympic Trials for the United States.
In addition to his experience with the Olympic Trials, Lanzel has competed on the U.S. Military World team in cross country in 2006 (in Tunisia), 2008 (Switzerland), 2010 (Belgium) and in track in 2003 (Italy) and 2011 (Brazil).
Following his active duty with the U.S. Navy, he came back to the Academy as an assistant under Al Cantello from June 2010 through December 2013. During that span on staff, the Mids finished in first place in the Patriot League in 2010, 2011 and 2013 with a second place result in 2012, the only blemish on the perfect run of titles. Four Midshipmen earned All-Patriot League First Team honors with another 14 garnering spots on the second team from 2010 to 2013. With Lanzel’s assistance, Cantello was named the Patriot League Coach of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
From 2013 to 2015, Lanzel turned his attention to engineering and consulting with the Medtronic organization. While employed at Medtronic, Lanzel developed algorithms, hardware, software and training programs for physiological monitoring systems that utilized heart rate, HRV, anaerobic threshold, breathing rate, VO2max, speed, and accelerometry. He completed two U.S. Provision Patent Applications. As a consultant, he trained and advised coaches associated with the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL, and NCAA, as well as special force groups in the military.
Lanzel becomes the fifth head coach in the storied history of the Navy men’s cross country program following Louis Mang (1922-26), Earl Thompson (1927-51), Jim Gehrdes (1952-67) and Al Cantello (1968-2018).
A 2003 USNA graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, Lanzel lives in Annapolis with his wife Ashley and daughter Aletheia.