Montgomery aims to keep Tigers on pace

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 21, 1999

Don’t look for any drastic changes under new Albert Lea High School cross country coach Dick Montgomery.

Saturday, August 21, 1999

Don’t look for any drastic changes under new Albert Lea High School cross country coach Dick Montgomery.

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He learned too much from his predecessor, 34-year coach Howie Melom.

&uot;Howie’s been here quite a few years, and my philosophy is a lot like his,&uot; said Montgomery. &uot;I learned a lot from Howie. We worked well together.&uot;

Montgomery, who served as Melom’s assistant coach for four years in cross country and three years for boys’ track and field, admits it’s a little mind boggling to think about how long Melom coached.

&uot;Thirty-four years,&uot; said Montgomery. &uot;He was coaching before I was born. I don’t know how he did it for so long.&uot;

For Montgomery, becoming a head coach is not something he’s thought about for a long time.

&uot;I guess it wasn’t so important to be head coach,&uot; he said. &uot;I really enjoyed working with Howie as an assistant, and we share a lot of the same ideas. I guess if Howie can’t do it, I’d rather be the head coach than be an assistant to somebody else.&uot;

Montgomery takes over a cross country program with a successful tradition. The girls’ team has been a conference and section contender for several years while the boys came within a few points of the Big Nine championship last fall.

As the youngest of eight children growing up in Lewiston, Montgomery got a taste of athletic success early in life.

Participating in football, wrestling, basketball and track and field, Montgomery was part of a strong athletic class and a member of football teams that were rated No. 3 and No. 1 in the state. His best sport was track, where he was a two-year captain and twice most valuable while advancing to state in the pole vault as a junior and senior.

At the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, Montgomery competed in track for three years and was on two national championship teams.

Montgomery’s first teaching job was at St. Charles, where he also served three years as head boys’ track coach and assistant wrestling coach.

Montgomery came to Albert Lea in the fall of 1994. In addition to serving as Melom’s assistant in cross country and track, Montgomery has coached ninth-grade volleyball and junior high golf.

Montgomery’s wife of four years, Christina, is employed by Mayo Clinic in Rochester. While Montgomery plans no sweeping changes for the cross country program, he will do some things a bit differently than Melom.

For one thing, he won’t wait a long time for results at the conclusion of a meet, preferring to get his athletes home at an earlier hour and receive the results via FAX the next day.

Another change – and one that Montgomery has already instituted – is varying workouts with cross training such as bicycling.

The biggest change is probably Montgomery’s philosophy of easing into the season.

While Montgomery and Melom agree that conference, section and state is the time to peak, Melom also liked to see his teams win throughout the season, starting with the first meet. Montgomery is less concerned with early-season performances.

&uot;We may be a little out of shape, in retrospect, the first couple of meets,&uot; said Montgomery. &uot;But my philosophy is we’ll be there at the end of the year. I think it will cut down on injuries and midseason fatigue, and as long as they understand we’re working toward the end of the year, that philosophy will work.&uot;

A Melom tradition that Montgomery plans to continue is to get as many kids as possible involved in cross country and all sports.

&uot;I’d like to recruit,&uot; said Montgomery. &uot;Not only in cross country, but in all sports, numbers are down. I would just like to see more kids get out and participate in more of these sports. My long-term goal is to get more kids to participate in cross country and track.&uot;

He also wants to help his athletes be the best they can be – for their own benefit.

&uot;I’m just going to try to give the kids the best opportunity I can for them to do well for themselves,&uot; said Montgomery. &uot;I just hope the kids do well for themselves.&uot;