NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – University of Massachusetts Dartmouth freshman Chris Cennami (Peabody, Mass.) was named the 2014 Little East Conference Men's Rookie Track Athlete of the Year and Steve Gardiner was selected as the Men's Coach of the Year this afternoon, when the conference office announced its annual men's and women's outdoor track and field major award winners.
Cennami is the second Corsair in program history to be voted by the six head coaches as the top rookie runner (Kyle Costa, 2011), while Gardiner was elected for the second time in the past three years by his peers.
Cennami made an immediate impact in his first season in an UMass Dartmouth uniform, winning the Little East Conference individual title in the 100-meter dash and qualifying for the New England Open Championships. The Peabody, Mass. product was the fastest sprinter to complete the 100-meter dash in the preliminary round of the annual conference championship, tripping the timer at 11.09 seconds. Cennami was the first Little East runner to cross the finish line in the finals and third overall in the New England Alliance Championship scoring with a time of 11.12 seconds. He matched his lowest time of the season and the sixth best in program history at the Division III New England Championships to place 13th overall (11.09). Cennami also finished 13th overall in the New England Open Championship field, when he completed his rookie campaign with a time of 11.13 seconds. He registered a season-best time in the 200-meter dash at the Springfield College Invitational, when Cennami crossed the line at 22.97 seconds.
In 2014, Gardiner led the Corsairs to the program's second Little East Conference Men's Outdoor Track and Field Championship title in the past three seasons. UMass Dartmouth produced four individual champions and eight second-place performances to earn 190 points to outdistance the University of Southern Maine by 40 markers in the team standings. Under his direction, seniors Brett Croteau (Rehoboth, Mass./Dighton-Rehoboth) and Matt Hinthorne (Braintree, Mass.) qualified for the 2014 NCAA Division III Outdoor Men's Track and Field Championship. Croteau placed 10th overall in the javelin (59.12 meters; 193-11), while Hinthorne finished 14th in the 800-meter run (1.53.42).
The Corsairs geared up for the NCAA Championship meet by competing in the New England Open Championships. Hinthorne established a new UMass Dartmouth record in the 800-meter run (1:50.58) to highlight the squads' 20th-place performance. A week earlier, the Corsairs finished 15th at the Division III New England Championships. Freshman Kevin Cutler (Attleboro, Mass.) cleared 2.08 meters (6-9.75) to break the program's high jump record and place second in the 15-person field.