Friar Commitment

Malvern wrestling rules the mats.

Malvern wrestling coach Nathan Lautar

It was not easy for Nathan Lautar and his twin brother, Jason, to attend Malvern Prep during the late 1990s. Due to some tough family circumstances, the school’s tuition was out of reach, so an anonymous alum made sure the boys would be able to take advantage of what the institution had to offer. To this day, the Lautars don’t know who helped them.

What Nathan Lautar can say is that his passion for the school is strong, and that coaching the Friars’ wrestling team and directing its youth mat program are his ways of demonstrating his appreciation to someone he will likely never be able to thank in person. “I love the school,” says Lautar, now in his fourth year as head wrestling coach. “There’s way more to it than one thing. I love the culture and the people. The campus is like a second home to me, and I want others to have the same experience I had.”

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As far as wrestling is concerned, Lautar has been able to give his team a superior sense of involvement. The Friars were solid when Lautar wrestled at 103, 112, 125 and 130 pounds from 1994-98. But they’re now the scourge of the Inter-Ac League and one of the best independent school programs in the nation.

Last Friday’s 69-12 romp over Penn Charter gave Malvern its second straight league title. The Friars were so dominant that they didn’t lose a single individual match during Inter-Ac competition. All six defeats came as a result of forfeit. Friday and Saturday, they will co-host with Phelps School the “Hoedown at Hilldene,” an invitational tournament which will serve as a tune-up before the Friars host the Pennsylvania Independent School Wrestling Tournament Feb. 19-20 and then move on to the national prep tournament a week later. Judging by Malvern’s performance in recent years, its success against the best of the state and country should be high.

Since 2009, Malvern has had 27 all-Americans, including five last year, when it was fourth in the country, its best-ever finish. Lautar has created a strong culture of success in the program, but the key to Malvern’s wrestling growth has been its feeder system, the Malvern Wrestling Club. It works with elementary and middle-school competitors and builds top-caliber competitors who have moved from the club ranks to the Malvern high school lineup. “We have branded Malvern wrestling,” Lautar says. “It has taken a few years for it come to fruition, but it’s going well now.”

When he came to Malvern as an assistant in 2005, Lautar was working with the Tiger Elite Club in Newtown Square. He moved the club to Malvern in 2007, and he was able to begin helping wrestlers move on campus as students, thereby bulking up a program that had suffered through a 20-year title drought before it ruled the Inter-Ac in 2015.

The club sponsors individual and team tournaments on campus and has created a development fund that provides some financial assistant to students who—like Lautar and his brother—have struggled to pay tuition, even with financial aid. A golf tournament and a poker night are two of the fundraising events that help out. Every available dollar raised by the club goes back into the fund. “It’s built to be a gap-filler,” Lautar says. “If the school comes up with $10,000 in aid, but kids still need more, we can come up with some money for them. We’re trying to help every kid possible.”

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While crushing the competition in the process.

EL HOMBRE SEZ: Let’s hope the Eagles’ brass paid close attention to the Broncos’ Super Bowl win over Silent Cam and Carolina. The Denver defense was predatory, showing once again that that side of the ball is the main championship ingredient. … Looking for something to do Wednesday? Head to Rosemont College for a Colonial States Athletic Conference showdown between the Ravens and Cabrini. Rosemont (9-5 CSAC) won the earlier game between the teams, which sit third and fourth in the league standings.

Our Best of the Main Line Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!