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Video: Pless ’13 is NCAA shot put champ; All-America honors to Waldman ’11, Murtagh ’11

In all of the proud history of throwers on the Bates College men’s track and field program, the Bobcats have never boasted an All-American shot putter. Now, they have two, including an NCAA champion.

David Pless ’13 of Atlanta, Ga., won the shot put on Saturday, March 12, at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships, besting his own Bates record with a throw of 56 feet, 6 inches.

Ethan Waldman ’11 of Playa del Rey, Calif., earned All-America honors by finishing sixth in the event at 53 feet, 11 and three-quarter inches. Waldman become the third Bobcat All-American at the championships in two days, after Chris Murtagh ’11 of Rowley, Mass, placed fifth in the 35-pound weight throw on Friday.

The meet was held at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. Full results are here.



Pless’ championship shot put

Pless enters the throwing circle at the 13-second mark.

“There are so many variables in [a shot putter's] rotation technique, but today it was just on,” said Pless. “This is a great day to be a Bobcat.”

“I wanted it, and I worried about it, but I overcame that.”

The 6-foot-5 Pless acknowledged feeling plenty of butterflies prior to the competition, held at Capital University. “I’m really proud of myself for controlling my nervousness. I think that’s one of the best things about this,” he said. “I wanted it, and I worried about it, but I overcame that.”

Bates head coach Al Fereshetian said he was “overwhelmed” by the events of the day.

“For David to pull all of that together in his first time at nationals is just amazing,” Fereshetian added. “He stayed composed and executed right off the bat, and from there he really got into it. And to be honest, this was a phenomenal day, but there’s more to come from him.”

Pless quickly moved to the head of the pack in his preliminary flight, with an outstanding initial put of 16.58 meters. He moved up to 16.62 on his second attempt, and on his third attempt he broke his former Bates record in the indoor shot put of 55-02.75 by going 56-6, or 17.22 meters.

Waldman’s All-America shot put

Waldman enters the throwing circle at the 15-second mark.

Waldman competed in the second preliminary flight and all but ensured a place in the finals with a strong first attempt of 15.49 meters, which put him in eighth place at the start of the finals. In the finals he went 16.15, then 16.45 to move up two places.

“I’m extremely proud of Ethan. He has such a great, competitive nature, and it’s a big motivation for me to try to match him,” said Pless.

Murtagh’s All-America weight throw

Murtagh enters the throwing circle at the 20-second mark.

“Chris did a fantastic job of competing, and now we get to put his plaque up on the wall in Merrill,” said Fereshetian, referring to the track and field teams’ plaques recognizing all of Bates’ All-Americans. “I think this sets him up for a great outdoor season.”

Murtagh is a five-time All-NESCAC performer in outdoor track and field, including two conference javelin titles.

Hugs, Tears and High-Fives

The fun begins at the 1-minute mark as family, friends and coaches celebrate with hugs, tears and high-fives.

Pless first took up track and field in eighth grade, after getting cut from a baseball team. Enthusiasm for the sport has turned to passion since coming to Bates, he said. He found positive competition with Waldman, who set the team’s seven-year-old indoor shot put record at the State Championships in February, with Pless retaking the mark two weeks later.

“My parents made this happen.”

Pless’ parents, Dana Halberg and Larry Pless, were sitting nearby as Pless spoke on the phone after his title performance, “crying like babies,” he said. “My parents made this happen. They’ve always pushed me to do well and instilled a great work ethic in me, but never in an overbearing way.”

Pless’ desire to take his athletic career to new heights was manifested in a strenuous training routine he adopted last summer, paying for his own athletic trainer in the Atlanta area for four sessions a week, driving an hour and a half round-trip to get there. He paid for the personal training by working full-time as a cashier at a grocery store. By the end of the summer, he says, he had boosted all of his lifts by 80 pounds.

“I think I like practicing even more than meets.”

“I’m more than willing to put in the work, and I’m really glad it’s showing results this early in my career,” he said. “But if I made All-American just once, as a senior, it would be totally worth it. I love track and field. I think I like practicing even more than meets.”

Shot Put Award Ceremony

As the champ’s head coach, Fereshetian has the honor of presenting the shot put honors, including Waldman (40 second-mark) and Pless (at the 1-minute, 20-second mark).

It was the first NCAA Championship appearance for Pless, Waldman and Murtagh, and they led the Bobcats to seventh place out of 66 scoring teams at the meet.

Pless’ crown is the sixth NCAA crown claimed by Bates in men’s indoor track and field, and the 15th in indoor and outdoor track and field combined. The team’s last NCAA championship came in 2008, when Noah Gauthier ’08 won the weight throw title.

“There are so many variables in [a shot putter's] rotation technique, but today it was just on,” said Pless. “This is a great day to be a Bobcat.”

In the first NCAA Championship appearance for all three of the Bates men at the meet, the Bobcats managed to tie with Amherst for sixth place out of 66 scoring teams at the meet, with 17 points. Bates and Amherst were the top two teams from New England at the meet.

The 6-foot-5 Pless acknowledged feeling plenty of butterflies prior to the competition, held at Capital University. “I’m really proud of myself for controlling my nervousness. I think that’s one of the best things about this,” he said. “I wanted it, and I worried about it, but I overcame that.”

Bates head coach Al Fereshetian said he was “overwhelmed” by the events of the day. “For David to pull all of that together in his first time at nationals is just amazing. He stayed composed and executed right off the bat, and from there he really got into it. And to be honest, this was a phenomenal day, but there’s more to come from him.”

Ethan Waldman ’11 joined the ranks of Bates’ All-Americans, and is just the second ever in the shot put. (File photo by Tom Leonard ’78)

Pless quickly moved to the head of the pack in his preliminary flight, with an outstanding initial put of 16.58 meters. He moved up to 16.62 on his second attempt, and on his third attempt he broke his former Bates record in the indoor shot put of 55-02.75 by going 56-6, or 17.22 meters.

Waldman competed in the second preliminary flight and all but ensured a place in the finals with a strong first attempt of 15.49 meters, which put him in eighth place at the start of the finals. In the finals he went 16.15, then 16.45 to move up two places.

“I’m extremely proud of Ethan. He has such a great, competitive nature, and it’s a big motivation for me to try to match him,” said Pless.

Pless first took up track and field in eighth grade, after getting cut from a baseball team. Enthusiasm for the sport has turned to passion since coming to Bates, he said. Having Waldman as a teammate. Waldman set the team’s seven-year-old indoor shot put record at the State Championships in February, but Pless reset the mark two weeks later.

Pless’s parents, Dana Halberg and Larry Pless, were sitting nearby as Pless spoke on the phone afterward, “crying like babies,” he said. “My parents made this happen. They’ve always pushed me to do well and instilled a great work ethic in me, but never in an overbearing way.”

Pless’s desire to take his athletic career to new heights was manifested in a strenuous training routine he adopted last summer, paying for his own athletic trainer in the Atlanta area for four sessions a week, driving an hour and a half round-trip to get there. He paid for the personal training by working full-time as a cashier at a grocery store. By the end of the summer, he says, he had boosted all of his lifts by 80 pounds.

“I’m more than willing to put in the work, and I’m really glad it’s showing results this early in my career,” he said. “But if I made All-American just once, as a senior, it would be totally worth it. I love track and field. I think I like practicing even more than meets.”

After Murtagh’s performance yesterday, Bates had 25 athletes who had won a total of 29 All-America awards in indoor track and field. Seventeen of the 29 were in the 35-pound weight throw. Bates men have also won 45 All-America honors in outdoor track and field, 23 of them in throwing events, but none in the shot put.

Pless’s crown is the sixth NCAA crown claimed by Bates in men’s indoor track and field, and the 15th in indoor and outdoor track and field combined. The team’s last NCAA championship came in 2008, when Noah Gauthier ’08 won the weight throw title.

Chris Murtagh ’11 finished fifth in the weight throw Friday for his first All-America award, and the first by any Bates athlete so far this academic year. (File photo by Tom Leonard ’78)

Friday Recap

Bates senior Chris Murtagh won his first All-America honors on Friday, placing fifth in the 35-pound weight throw at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field with a clutch performance.

Murtagh (Rowley, Mass.) stood in fifth place after his fifth throw, his second of the finals round. Two competitors passed Murtagh on their penultimate throws, but on his final effort of the season Murtagh threw the weight 19.19 meters, or 62-11.50, passing both aforementioned men and moving back into fifth place. The top eight finishers are awarded NCAA All-America honors.

Murtagh’s final distance would have been good enough for first place in the event last year.

Murtagh made the finals with his second throw of the preliminary round, at 18.65 meters. He moved up into fifth place, temporarily, with his first throw in the finals, at 19.00 meters even.

“Chris did a fantastic job of competing today, and now we get to put his plaque up on the wall in Merrill,” said Fereshetian, referring to the track and field teams’ plaques recognizing all of Bates’ All-Americans. “I think this sets him up for a great outdoor season.” Murtagh is a five-time All-NESCAC performer in outdoor track and field, including two conference javelin titles.

It is Bates’ 17th All-America performance all-time in the weight throw, and Murtagh becomes the 12th Bates man to achieve the honor. He is Bates’ first indoor All-American since Gauthier won the NCAA weight throw title in 2008 with a top throw of 63-01.50.

Live Men’s Results at NCAAs



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