One of the county’s longest tenured coaches has received some well-deserved recognition on the national level. River Hill’s Early Lauer, who has spent more than four decades in Howard County coaching wrestling, cross country and track in a variety of roles, was selected by the National Federation of State High School Associations Coaches Association as 2012 National Coach of the Year for boys cross country.

Of the 22 individuals honored for this year’s national award, he was the only one from Maryland.

Lauer has had a long line of successful cross country teams at River Hill, including a combined seven state team champions between the boys (four) and girls (three) in the past 15 years. In addition, during that same time period, he’s had two girls individual champions, Lee McDuff (2000) and Katie Harman (2007, and three boys individual champions, Michael Styczynski (1999), Shane Stroup (2001) and Craig Morgan (2008).

Going back even further, he guided Atholton to a combined four cross country team titles between the girls (three) and boys (one) in the late 1980s.

It’s safe to say it’s because of that longevity of consistent and continued success as a cross country coach that Lauer caught the eye of the NFHS Coaches Association Advisory Committee.

This isn’t the first time a River Hill coach has been recognized by the NFHS. Bill Stara, who coached the Hawks’ boys soccer program for its first nine years, was selected after guiding his team to its fourth consecutive state title in 2005. Brian Van Duesen didn’t win the award in 2007, but he was a finalist after being named the NFHS Mid-East Coach of the Year after guiding his team to the state championship that season.

The NFHS awards program has been around since 1982 and is designed to honor coaches in the top 10 girls sports and top 10 boys sports, based on participation numbers, each season. Coaches must be active during the year in which they are selected in order to be eligible.