A University of Maine 2014 graduate has been named the first America East Man of the Year.
Kelton Cullenberg, a kinesiology/exercise science major from Chesterville, Maine, edged out finalists Jeff Turner of the University of New Hampshire and Luke Apfeld of the University of Vermont to claim the prestigious award that 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.
“It is an incredible honor,” says Cullenberg, who graduated from Mt. Blue High School in Farmington, Maine. “The other competitors represent the best their school has to offer. I never would have dreamed of getting this award.”
To qualify for the award, student-athletes had to maintain a 2.5 cumulative grade-point average, receive their undergraduate degree prior to the summer 2014 term and complete intercollegiate eligibility in their primary sport by the end of the 2014 spring season.
A cross country/track and field athlete, Cullenberg achieved a 3.92 GPA. The senior distance runner captained three teams, earned all-conference honors six times and won the 2014 M Club Dean Smith Award.
He earned distinction by earning spots on the America East All-Academic Team, the Commissioner’s Honors Roll and Dean’s List. He also was a Presidential Scholar and garnered a 4.0 GPA four times during his undergraduate career.
In 2013, Cullenberg 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 was presented a gold medallion as a three-time scholar-athlete.
Cullenberg was named University of Maine Athlete of the Week and America East Athlete of the Week multiple times during his career. He was also selected to All-Conference teams in cross country, indoor and outdoor track and field.
He placed second at the 2013 America East Cross Country Championships. At the 2013 Northeast Region meet, he was selected to the All-Region team and qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Cullenberg was the first UMaine male runner since 1979 to compete in the NCAA Cross Country Championship. 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.
Originally an engineering major, Cullenberg decided to attend UMaine because it offered a Division I sports program and it was close to home.
“A lot of my friends were leaning me toward engineering, but after the first few weeks I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do,” he says. “The kinesiology classes were much more geared toward my interests.”
A runner since youth, Cullenberg cites his parents as major motivators in his academic and extracurricular pursuits.
“My parents influenced me because they were runners, too. They were also teachers at my high school, so academics were always a big deal,” he says. “They didn’t push [running] on me, it was just something I grew to love.”
Cullenberg was not present at the awards ceremony at Bretton Woods in Carroll, New Hampshire. Instead, he was traveling to the Hypo2 High Performance Sport Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, to start an eight-week internship working and training with a variety of athletes.
“It [the award] is a nice icing on the cake,” Cullenberg says. “It is all a very humbling experience.”
A business administration minor, Cullenberg hopes to operate his own performance center that offers physical therapy and exercise training. He says this long-time dream was cultivated during his time at UMaine.
“UMaine was a good fit for me,” he says. “I was taking a couple business classes, then figured I might as well turn it into a minor. [Academically], the school was at a level where I knew I could do well, not only in sports, but in the classroom.”
Contact: Margaret Nagle, 207.581.374