Central Connecticut cross country coach Eric Blake was named the 2016 Northeast Conference Men's Cross Country Coach of the Year on Tuesday. Also, Blue Devil freshman Richard Grudzwick was named to the NEC All-Rookie Team.
The honor marks the third straight Coach of the Year accolade for Blake and his sixth career award.
Blake, who also won the award in 2009, 2010, 2012 ,2014, 2015, led CCSU to its eighth straight NEC title this past fall, becoming just the second NEC sports program to win eight straight conference titles. His six NEC Coach of the Year awards is also the most in conference history.
Grudzwick joins Gilmar Barrios (SHU), Jonathan Besselink (WAG), Carl Fortna (SHU), Joshua Hadity (SHU), Liam Harris (WAG) and Mitchell Wileczek (MSM) on the 2016 NEC All-Rookie Team.
Blake coached Grudzwick to a place on the NEC Men's Cross Country All-Rookie Team, as well as placing five Blue Devils on the All-Conference Team this season. In his tenure he has placed 40 men's cross country student-athletes on the All-Conference teams. He has also coached five NEC Outstanding Performers.
This season Blake led the Blue Devils to two first place victories, including the 2016 NEC Championship. Senior Tyler Raymond was the top finisher for the Blue Devils, completing the 8k course at Saint Francis University in 26:57.6, to finish second overall. The four other Blue Devils to earn all-conference honors by finishing within the top-18 were sophomores Austin Trainor (8) and Alex Norstrom (9), and seniors Derek French (11) and Malcolm Connor (13).