BRETTON WOODS, N.H. – Senior track and field standout, Kelton Cullenberg, was officially named the inaugural America East Man of the Year on Monday evening at conference's Annual Meeting in Bretton Woods, N.H., as the distance runner was honored for his athletic and academic achievements. This is the first year that the conference has handed out the award as it coincides with America East Woman of the Year award, which it has been in existence since 2006.
"Just to be nominated for this award really means so much to me," Cullenberg said. "It shows that my school and my conference recognize how hard I have worked, not just in athletics, but academics, the community, and through leadership positions."
Cullenberg, joined eight other nominees when the conference first announced the award field in early May. The Chesterville, Maine, native joined Cody Futia (Albany), Ben Nicholson (Binghamton), Anthony Santaga (Hartford), Pete Caringi III (UMBC), Keith Lewis (UMass-Lowell), Jeff Turner (New Hampshire), Brandon McNitt (Stony Brook), and Luke Apfeld (Vermont) as a nominee.
The field was whittled down further on May 21 as Cullenberg, Turner and Apfeld were named the three finalists, while the Black Bear honoree was eventually selected for the honor.
"To be a great student or athlete you have to make many sacrifices in your life, but to be a great student-athlete there is no such thing as down time," Cullenberg said. "I see this award as a token of all the sacrifices that have been made over the last four years, including those from my coaches, professors, friends, and family who have all helped me greatly the entire way."
The award recognizes the male senior student-athlete at his respective school who best exemplifies a commitment to service, leadership, athletics and academics during his collegiate career. To be nominated a student athlete must have completed their intercollegiate eligibility in his primary sport by the end of the 2014 spring season or received his undergraduate degree prior to the conclusion of the summer 2014 term and have a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 2.500 (4.000 scale).
The senior distance runner has captained three University of Maine teams. He has been named University of Maine Athlete of the Week and America East Athlete of the Week multiple times during his career. Cullenberg has also been selected to All-Conference teams in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.
At the 2013 America East Cross Country Championships, he finished second overall. At the 2013 Northeast Region meet, he was selected to the All-Region team where he qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Cullenberg was the first UMaine male runner to compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championship since 1979. His personal best in the 3,000-meters is 8:24 and he is second on the University's all-time list, running the 5,000-meters in 14:25. He finished second at the 2014 America East Indoor Track and Field Championships in the 5,000-meter run.
"In the fall, my cross country career ended by qualifying for nationals and representing Maine on the highest stage in collegiate cross country," Cullenberg noted. "It had always been my dream to race against the best runners in the nation, even when I was in high school. This was the highlight of my UMaine career, and an experience I'll never forget."
In outdoor season Cullenberg placed second in the highly competitive Penn Relays in the 5,000 with a time of 14:25.06. In addition, he won the America East title, in the 5,000 with a time of 14:29.42.
Maine's athletic department has recognized Cullenberg's academic success as well as he won the 2014 M Club Dean Smith Award, presented annually to the top male and female student-athlete at Maine and has been named to the Dean's List six times and has posted a perfect 4.0 grade point average four times.
Cullenberg has been awarded the Presidential Scholar Award four times and has been named to the America East All-Academic Team in three different sports. He has also been selected to the America East Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll numerous times. In 2013, he received the College of Education Dean's Award and was inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society. At the 2014 Scholar-Athlete Award recognition, he received a gold medallion as a three-time scholar-athlete.
"I am very proud to have attended the University of Maine," said Cullenberg. "I have a lot of love for this school. Every time I competed I wanted to represent our state and our university to my best ability. It motivated me to give a little more when I thought I had nothing left. It means a lot to be able to represent the University of Maine one last time by accepting this award."
Aaron began his career at WVII in March of 2008. He attended Old Town High School, where he graduated in 2004. From there he moved on to the New England School of Communications, majoring in Sports Broadcasting and Journalism. Originally a sports radio major, Aaron co-hosted a weekly sports radio show on WHSN called This Week in Sports while also doing play by play and color commentary of Husson Eagle sporting events. He also spent a semester as the stations sports director. After his sophomore year he realized he had run out of radio classes to take, so he began taking TV courses while also working at Stephen King’s sports station WZON. Aaron graduated from NESCom in May of 2008 with a degree in communications, and was named the top broadcast journalist of his class. Since joining ABC-7 and Fox Bangor he has won multiple Maine Association of Broadcasting Awards.
In his free time Aaron likes, surprise, to watch sports and play sports. From mountain climbing to basketball, there are very few sports Aaron doesn’t enjoy. He also likes traveling when he gets the chance, and is happy he has been able to pursue his passion for sports while staying close to his family. You can follow him on Twitter at @AaronRJackson, and you can catch him weeknights at 6, 10 and 11 on ABC-7 and Fox Bangor. He can also be reached via email at [email protected].