Lautar puts Malvern back on top

Oh the joys of being a private school in the athletic world.

The public schools envy the top programs and their open enrollment, while athletes and alumni have that extra dose of pride. Meanwhile, the privates can gather talent from all over, but only if the families can manage the college-like tuition.

For Malvern Prep, it’s taken years for the Friars to figure out the right formula in the wrestling world. Competing in the Inter-Academic League, Malvern hadn’t won a league title since 1995. Until this year.

Head coach Nate Lautar, who was a freshman for the Friars when they won their first title 20 years ago, and after romping through league competition this winter, he’s back on top. He’s also the 2015 Daily Local News All-Area Wrestling Coach of the Year.

“We had high expectations going into the season and we had a bunch of injuries in the middle of the season because of our schedule,’ Lautar said. “It took a toll on us early and I was nervous in a way and the high expectations popped a little bit. I was a little down on the season and we had a little lull in the middle of the season, but we were still winning dual meets and our seniors were able to keep us motivated. Obviously it came together at the end of the season when everyone got healthy.’

The Inter-Ac was no match for Malvern this year, as the Friars outscored their five other squads 306-49.

While that was high on the list of priorities, Lautar always gears his teams for the postseason and his boys shined there as well. Eleven Friars qualified for prep nationals and five — Mark Salvatore (third at 106 pounds), Nick Lattanze (fourth at 126), Matt Lattanze (seventh at 145), Mike Beard (second at 170) and Rashad Lusane (third at 182) — earned All-American status.

Matt Lattanze and Lusane won prep state titles, and Lautar was named Coach of the Year of the Pennsylvania prep schools, while Nate Wachter was named Assistant of the Year and Beard was voted Wrestler of the Year.

The Friars finished fourth at prep nationals as a team, behind Blair Academy (NJ), Wyoming Seminary (PA) and McDonogh (MD).

“To me it was unbelievable,’ Lautar said. “Wrestling the kind of schools that were ahead of us, the only schools ahead of us were boarding schools. To do that without being a boarding school speaks to how far this program has come. It’s come a long way because we have great families in the program.’

Malvern’s reign in the Inter-Ac doesn’t appear to be a short-term thing, as all five All-Americans and three other national qualifiers return. The influx of talent doesn’t appear to be drying up either, as Malvern’s rise through the ranks of the prep schools has only gotten it more attention.

“(Malvern) has always been good helping us get kids into school, but it’s $30,000 a year,’ Lautar said. “You have to find the right group of parents to buy into that. (The administration) has been great helping kids get in and are very behind my vision and program. It’s just not as easy as a lot of people think it is.’

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