Tom O'HoraCabrini College Athletics
...Tom O'Hora Head Coach
Out of breath and totally spent, Tom O'Hora
shuffled off the track at the Philadelphia Metropolitan Championionshps and ran smack into a firm handshake from one of the most prominent coaches in the world.
"That was like the Yankees asking me, 'How'd you like to play with Mickey Mantle?', recalled O'Hora
, now in his
27th year as Cabrini
track and cross country coach, with 25 team and individual conference titles to his
credit in cross country alone.Not to mention membership in the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame
Moments earlier, in that "pretty good race," O'Hora
had taken the baton for LaSalle and blown past Villanova anchorman Larry Livers to win the 4 x 440-yard relay (now 4 x 400 meters).
, a gutsy kid from Scranton, was about to graduate after leading LaSalle to three Middle Atlantic Conference titles.Ironically, he
'd gone there because he doubted he'd measure up at mighty Villanova, then a track superpower.And 'Nova did nothing to try and change his
A few years after blowing by Livers and Villanova
ran the second leg at the Penn Relays as the Pioneers broke the American record in the 4 x 440 with a time of 3:03.
In later years, O'Hora
became a terror on the Masters age-group circuit, winning two national titles in the 400 and anchoring the United States as team captain to a bronze medal in the 4 x 400 at the World Games in Australia -- despite coming down with food poisoning the night before.O'Hora
entered the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame
in 1989 - fittingly, his daughter, Veronica O'Hora Ellers, entered the new Cabrini Hall of Fame
in October 2006.
Hall of Fame induction usually signifies the end of the road, but Tom O'Hora
was about to shift into high gear as a college coach. When he
entered the Pennsylvania Hall, seven years after arriving at Cabrini
in 1982, he'd guided the men to five conference titles in cross country and the women to one.As of today, the Cavalier men have piled up 17 titles, the women have captured 10 crowns.
, the men have won nine team titles in three different conferences, along with eight individual gold medals, including Eddie Pentar's first-place finish at the PAC Championship in 2007.
...Before coming to Cabrini, O'Hora rang up a glittering record in seven years as men's coach at Holy Cross High in Delran, N.J.He
produced five individual state track champions, won the state parochial-school track title and led the cross-country team to the Eastern championship. In dual meets, his
Holy Cross teams went 68-13-1 in track and 70-14 in cross country.Before he
arrived, the school had never had a winning record in either sport.O'Hora
grew up in an economically depressed Scranton that was fast approaching Rust Belt status.He
ran for Scranton Central
, the city's top academic high school, slogging his
way around a track of cinder and sand.
"I had no coaching in high school," he
recalled."I had no idea how to run whatsoever.Our coach was a chain smoker, a football line coach.He'd tell us, 'You wanna run?Go out and run.' "
went out and ran, winning every 440 and 880 but one as a junior and senior and capturing back-to-back Lackawanna County and District II Championships.He
also anchored the mile and two-mile relay teams to back-to-back undefeated seasons.