Any way you slice it, Bates senior David Pless (Atlanta, Ga.) has proven himself as an all-time great in both the realm of Division III track and field and in the broad and long history of Bates athletics.
After finishing a career-best second in the weight throw on Friday at indoor nationals, which tied him for the most All-America awards ever by a Bates male athlete with seven-time All-American diver Andrew Hastings '02, Pless went out and won his third straight NCAA indoor title in the shot put, with a top mark of 60 feet, 3 inches. The performance made him only the third man to win three Division III indoor shot put crowns, as well as Bates' first three-time national champion and its first eight-time All-American male athlete.
Pless's reputation preceded him at nationals -- the day before the meet began, Pless was named New England Field Athlete of the Year for the third straight season -- yet he continues to maintain an upward trajectory in his career. He'll have the chance to win as many as three more All-America honors at the conclusion of the outdoor season, as he'll vie to qualify for the meet for a second straight year in the shot, the discus and the hammer.
Along with fellow senior captain James LePage's (Cumberland, Maine) fourth-place finish in the 800 meters, the team points Pless earned in the shot and the weight boosted Bates to a program-best fifth-place finish at the meet, trailing only four Wisconsin state universities. Combining that with Bates' sixth-place finish at the 2012 Division III Cross Country Championships, the Bobcat men's track and cross country programs now rank third in the USTFCCCA's Program of the Year standings.