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Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Coach Putnam (second from right in foreground), Tufts Athletics Director Bill Gehling, and a large group of attendees share a laugh at the dedication ceremony

MEDFORD -- Connie Putnam, the dedicated and successful coach of the Tufts University men's cross country and track & field programs for 21 seasons from 1985 through 2005, was back on campus this past Saturday (May 22) to receive a well-deserved honor at the Dussault Track at Ellis Oval.

John Regan, Class of 1990, and his wife Kimberly made a gift to the Tufts Athletics facility project in honor of Coach Putnam. At a ceremony on Saturday, a plaque honoring Coach Putnam for 21 years of dedication to Tufts men's cross country and track & field was unveiled. Regan and Tufts Athletics Director Bill Gehling spoke, and then a ceremonial steeplechase race was run around the track by many of the 100 in attendance at the event.

Regan, a member of the Tufts Athletics Board of Overseers, ran the steeplechase for Coach Putnam, who mentored hundreds of young men during his distinguished career. The team enjoyed great success in the steeplechase event during Coach Putnam's tenure. The Tufts record in the event of 8:50.70 was set by David Patterson under Coach Putnam's guidance in 2001. Patterson won the 3,000-meter steeplechase national championship that year. Mark Herlihy also won a steeplechase national championship in 1988 with Putnam as his coach.

Historically one of Tufts' most competitive programs, men's cross country and track & field thrived under Putnam. The cross country team qualified for the NCAA championship race six times in seven years from 1998-2004, and cross country had team or individual representation at Nationals every year from 1994-2004. The track & field team regularly sent competitors to the NCAA indoor and outdoor championships under Putnam's mentoring.

Putnam was also instrumental in the development of top-notch facilities at Tufts. The "Farm Course" for cross country, the Gantcher Family Sports Center for indoor track & field and the Dussault Track outdoors all hosted numerous regional championship meets during Putnam's tenure.

In what would be his final season with the team in 2004-05, Putnam was voted New England Division III and New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Coach of the Year for cross country and the NCAA New England Coach of the Year for indoor track & field.