Lechleitner to continue running with IUP

EBENSBURG- Central Cambria senior Adam Lechleitner was unsure whether running in college was the right choice for him.

But after proving his worth against some of the area’s top athletes and drawing interest from local universities, the opportunity to continue the game at the next level was simply too great of a chance to pass up.

Lechleitner recently announced his intentions to continue his career in track and field as well as cross country with the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).

“I always had my eye on IUP because of the success of their nursing program. I was between IUP and Penn State Altoona, but the offer to run for IUP simplified my decision,” Lechleitner said. “I like that it isn't a huge team, so I will be able to get close to my new teammates and make a family out of them similar to the family I have found in my high school team.”

A member of four District 6 and Laurel Highlands Athletic Conference championships in Cross Country and a district champion in track and field, Lechleitner put together a distinguished career with the Red Devils.

Central Cambria has remained the standard for success in cross country across the state, and Lechleitner’s abilities have played a large part of that. He was a key contributor for his team’s four conference and district titles, earning top individual finishes as well.

Lechleitner took fifth at the LHAC championship meet, and in a difficult meet against some of the best in the area at the District 6 Class 2A championships, he took second in a resilient display of talent and dedication.

“Adam brings a toughness, a gritty attitude to cross country. He's a passionate runner,” Central Cambria cross country coach Randy Wilson said. “He takes on cross country races like they're boxing matches— better yet, slugfests.”

The District 6 championships this past fall was an eye-opening experience for Lechleitner as he proved to himself that he was capable of competing at the next level.

With only around 800 meters remaining, Lechleitner sat at sixth place. But after a “few choice words of motivation,” he would not be denied. He gave it his all and sprinted to the finish, passing four runners and finishing second.

His last-ditch effort allowed the Red Devils to claim the top five spots en route to the district title.

He was always in beast mode when it came to the weightroom.” Wilson said. “He made sure that they got in a lift after every race. [It] didn't matter how long the ride home was, they lifted. He was part of a senior group that bonded together with the younger athletes to have the best season in school history during a global pandemic. I can tell stories about workouts with Adam all day long. In all of them, he's always super positive, super tough and always putting the team first.”

Lechleitner will play for IUP coach Joey Zins, who enters his 13th season as the Crimson Hawks cross country coach. Zins has also been the track and field coach since 2014. Under Zins, the men’s and women’s cross country teams combined for 10 top-half finishes at the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Championships, including five finishes in the top four.

Lechleitner will join a Crimson Hawks program that features a share of local talent, which includes 2019 Forest Hills graduate Mitch Chunta and 2020 Central Cambria graduate Nate Kuntz. Following persuasion from Kuntz along with a reignited passion sparked his senior year, Lechleitner knew the opportunity to continue running at the next level was the right choice for him.

“I decided college athletics was a great opportunity for me after this year's district race when I ran the best race of my life and decided that I wanted to continue competing in this sport,” Lechleitner said. “I knew I had a chance to run at the collegiate level when my former teammate Nate Kuntz came up to me and said that IUP's coach wanted to talk to me.”

Though his time as a Red Devil ticks down, Lechleitner still has unfinished business. The winter sports season is slowly beginning, and track season will arrive quickly enough..

He is looking to finish his career out strong and represent the Central Cambria community at the highest level.

Being a Red Devil is and always will be a great honor,” Lechleinter said. “It means working hard not only for you and your team, but for the whole school that you represent. My high school athletic experience has been nothing but extraordinary, and everything I know about hard work and dedication comes from my past and present teammates and all of the coaches that have pushed me to where I am today.”

Lechleitner thanked Wilson and the entire Red Devil coaching staff for all their guidance and support over his interscholastic career.

He is the son of Michael and Nicole Lechleitner, of Ebensburg.