Eric Blake is currently in his eighth season as the head coach for the men’s cross country and track teams. He also is in his seventh season as head coach for the women’s cross country and track programs. Blake, a 2002 CCSU graduate, was appointed the head coach of the men's teams in August of 2009 and head coach of the women's programs in August of 2010. Combined, Blake has won 13 Northeast Conference Championships as a head coach (8-XC, 5-Track) and eight Coach of the Year awards (6-XC, 2-Track). Blake's six cross country Coach of the Year awards is the most in NEC history.
The Blue Devil men’s cross country program has won eight-straight Northeast Conference Cross Country Championship every year under Blake's direction. Central has won seven-straight NEC titles spanning from 2009-2016. Most recently in 2014, the Blue Devil’s recorded a perfect score at the NEC championship as all five-scoring runners finished one through five, setting a NEC record. The Blue Devils are the first men’s cross country team in league history to win eight straight titles, and only the sixth overall program in league history to win at least seven straight titles.
Coach Blake has coached seven different Blue Devils to individual cross country titles/outstanding performer awards in his career. On the men’s side Blake has coached the past five individual winners over the eight-year stretch of team titles, including the 2014 individual winner Patrick Hubbell. On the women’s side he saw an individual winner cross the finish line in 2011 (Alasia Griebel), in 2014 (Elizabeth Eberhardt), and back-to-back individual championships from Brittany Mendelson (2015-16). Mendelson was awarded the NEC's Most Outstanding Performer honor forf both seasons. Blake also saw his first athlete win the freshman of the year award this season (2014) in Colin Sauter. Blake has also had two athletes qualify and compete at the NCAA Championship meet (Criag Hunt - 2013;Mendelson - 2015 - XC).
Over the past eight years as head coach of the men's and women's cross country programs, Blake has seen 51 athletes earn all-conference honors.
Blake has helped the Blue Devil track and field program complete an incredible turn around as well. With Blake at the helm, CCSU captured the program’s first outdoor track and field championship in 2014 (Men) and since then have won four consecutive titles (2014-17). CCSU's head coach saw two members, Austin Trainor and Edwin Alston, qualify and compete in Lexington, KY for the NCAA East Preliminary Regionals in 2017. On the women's side, Blake guided the outdoor squad to a 142-point 2017 NEC Runner-Up finish while scoring the most points collectively in program history. Mendelson won back-to-back 5K championships (2016-17) as well as the 10K title in 2017 en route to being named the NEC's Most Outstanding Distance Performer (2016-17).
He also led the men’s indoor track and field team to victory at the 2011 NEC Indoor Track and Field Championship. Blake earned NEC Coach of the Year honors after both titles and the 2011 indoor title completed a worst-to-first turn around over only three seasons from 2009-2011.
Coach Blake has coached two indoor track rookies of the year (Aaron Radden - 2010, Denzell Jones - 2011) and also two indoor track MVP's (Aaron Radden - 2010, 2011) on the men's side. From the women's team, Blake coached the 2013 indoor track outstanding field performer (Ronea Saunders).
"We are pleased that Eric will be overseeing both our men's and women's cross country and track programs," Director of Athletics Paul Schlickmann said. "Eric's work ethic, commitment to, and understanding of Central Athletics is a winning combination. His leadership of our men's programs this past season was exceptional. He embodies the best of what Central Athletics stands for and we are confident he can lead our women's programs to a similar level of success."
A four-year member of the cross country and track teams while at Central, Blake graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in education (mathematics). Prior to attending CCSU, the Lebanon, CT native was the 1996 state open cross country champion.
Blake earned a master's degree from Adams State College, where he was a member of the school's Division II cross country and track teams. Following his graduation from Adams State, Blake was the head coach for the Plattsburgh State men's and women's cross country teams. He also was an assistant coach for the track and field squads. He served as an assistant with the Blue Devils prior to his appointment as head coach in August 2009.
"This is a tremendous opportunity for me and I look forward to working with and developing both our men's and women's programs," Blake said following the announcement. "My first year as a head coach at my alma mater was a very rewarding one. Our men's team worked hard and competed at a high level throughout the cross country and track seasons. I am excited about creating a similar work ethic and championship attitude with our women's program."
Blake is currently a seven-time member of the USATF Mountain Running Team and three time winner at the Mount Washington Road Race, including 2013. In addition to being a 2014 USA Track and Field member, Blake is affiliated with the La Sportiva Mountain Running team. He is also a USATF certified Level 1, 2 and 3 Coach. In 2004, Blake qualified and competed at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Birmingham, Alabama and finished the 26.2 mile race 33rd with a time of 2:22.44.
Blake is also a three-time winner of the Mount Washington Road Race (2006, 2008, 2013) and was inducted into the Mount Washington Road Hall of Fame in 2015. Blake holds the Connecticut and New York state records for the 154-year-old, 7.6-mile, uphill race on the Mount Washington Auto Road. He is one of only eight people to complete the race in under sixty minutes, and has run the race in 1:02 more times than any other runner.
Blake resides in West Hartford with his wife, Anne.