Vandegrift's Anthony Monte Takes His Running National At NXN

Vandegrift's Anthony Monte talks after winning the Cedar Park Inv.

It wasn't long ago that not many runners, coaches, and running enthusiasts hadn't heard of Austin Vandegrift junior Anthony Monte.

No fault to him, but there were just way bigger fish in the state including in his own area. With names like Crayton Carrozza, Brendan Hebert, and Dereck Elkins dominating things in the Austin area last year, it was hard to notice others.

Monte was determined to change that with his performances this cross country season. He did so, from the very beginning. In his first race of the season, Monte ran a 9:34 2 mile race in a tri-meet. The race was pretty much solo with the minimal teams as he won by over 30 seconds. 

Although the remaining schedule would get increasingly harder, the next couple weeks of the season would follow suit for the junior. 

He would eventually run at The Woodlands' Friday Night Lights for a win, the infamous Marcus I Invitational where he would finish fourth, and he would also collect wins at the St. Andrews Invitational and the Cedar Park Invitational.

Following the guidance of Vandegrift head coach Collin Sully and the meet schedule he designed, Monte would begin to make a name for himself as he continued to rack up those wins as well as several 15:30 and under races. However, that is when things got a little complicated.

"I thought that I had the chance to make it and I was motivated to make it out of the region but I thought that I was going to be right on the cusp of making it as an individual."

Anthony Monte - Austin Vandegrift junior

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During one of the several super raining weeks and weekends in Texas this Fall, he would begin to experience tendinitis issues with his Achilles. 

Roads were wet, grounds were over saturated, and cross country courses either turned into rivers and lakes or slip and slide muddy courses. The Coppell Invitational, in which Monte's Vandegrift squad participated in was indeed one of those super muddy courses. Perhaps conditions from those couple of weeks led to the Achilles tendinitis. Monte was only able to muster a fourth place finish at Coppell, 14th place at the McNeil Invitational, second at district, and third at regionals. 

Anthony Monte (2567) qualified for NXN with his 3rd place NXR South finish

Things would begin to look up though. The Achilles situation was improving and was beginning to work itself out just in time for the state meet.

Then again, right before state, another challenges would arise. "I ended up coming down with some sort of chest cold the day before the state meet and it made breathing difficult throughout the race," Monte said. "It ended up affecting me mentally more than anything though especially because it was the first meet that I was feeling somewhat recovered from the Achilles tendinitis."

The one race he had been training for since the off season began and what he has been racing for all season long was all of a sudden more difficult than it should have been. Initially, expecting to challenge for the win, Monte was only able to finish 19th overall. That was quite the improvement from 95th place from the previous year, but still not the idea he had for this season.

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Things still did not deflate Monte's psyche.

"Even after the state meet, I was still really confident in my ability to do well at Nike South. If anything having a rather disappointing finish at the state meet was what made me more determined for Nike."

Yes, even after state, there was still life for Monte's season. That would come in the form of NXR South. Perhaps the best collection of talent he would face all season long. However, with improved health and his fitness level still high, Monte could recall on his early season self and come up with a big performance.

"Even after the state meet, I was still really confident in my ability to do well at Nike South. If anything having a rather disappointing finish at the state meet was what made me more determined for Nike."

Anthony Monte - Austin Vandegrift junior

"I thought that I had the chance to make it and I was motivated to make it out of the region but I thought that I was going to be right on the cusp of making it as an individual. I really tried to keep all my training similar to what I have been doing all season because it lead me to success at meets earlier in the year so there was no straying from that training plan and after brushing state off my mental game returned to that preseason determination."

Anthony Monte (2567) competes at NXR South

The results were good. Taking on the best athletes in the southwest part of the country, Monte would resurrect his season in a big way. His third place finish would qualify him for the biggest race of his career as the top five individuals in the race qualified for Nike Cross Nationals (NXN).

After a complete season of working on making people in the state aware of who he was, there might have been some questions about whether Monte was just a pretender or if he was truly a contender to be one of the state's best.

"For it being my first time doing well in a competition of this caliber it was a huge morale boost especially coming off a mediocre mid-season and I'm hoping that drives me through into track seasons so I can perform at this high of a level consistently."

Monte did very well last track season as he ran to PRs of 4:17 and 9:31, and I'm sure he will be on fire this spring, but that will have to wait.

Monte has goals for NXN, he wants to "Place well," as he says. "I hope to go about the race at nationals the same way I took on the regional meet by not getting overwhelmed so I can really race with the control that I had at Nike South."

While the entire state ought to know his name by now, the rest of the nation could find out as well when this weekend's NXN rolls around at Glendoveer Golf Course in Portland.
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