Bobcats of the week of Mar. 14, 2011

David Pless '13
In all of the proud history of throwers on the Bates College men's track and field program, the Bobcats had never boasted an All-American shot putter. Suddenly, on Saturday, they had two, including Bates' newest NCAA champion, sophomore David Pless(Atlanta, Ga.).Pless captured first place in the shot Saturday at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships, and passed his own school record, with a top effort of 56 feet, 6 inches. Pless's senior teammate,Ethan Waldman (Playa del Rey, Calif.), meanwhile, finished sixth in the event at 53-11.75, becoming the team's third All-American in a span of two days. (Senior Chris Murtaghplaced fifth in the weight throw on Friday.)

In the first NCAA Championship appearance for all three of the Bates men, the Bobcats managed to finish in seventh place out of 66 scoring teams at the meet, with 17 points.

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."

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.

After Murtagh's performance on Friday, 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 title ever 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 crown came in 2008, when Noah Gauthier '08 won the weight throw title. Bates' last NCAA title in any sport occurred in May 2009, when Ben Stein '09 and Amrit Rupasinghe '10 won the Division III doubles championship in men's tennis.

Micaela Holland '11
The Bates College alpine ski team had three top-18 finishes in Saturday's slalom competition to wrapped up the 2011 NCAA National College Skiing Championships in fine fashion at Stowe Mountain Resort last Saturday, with three top-18 finishes in the slalom competition at Stowe Mountain Resort.Senior Micaela Holland (Belmont, Mass.), the lone Bates woman to qualify for NCAA alpine competition this year, tied a career best by placing 18th in the women's slalom, the sixth and final NCAA race in her impressive career. Her first run of 1:03.46 was 22nd best among 35 competitors, and she moved up to 18th place with a second run of 57.61 seconds, 15th best in the field.

Meanwhile, seniors John Canney (North Clarendon, Vt.) and Ben Manter (Vassalboro, Maine) capped their careers by placing 15th and 17th, respectively, in the men's slalom. Junior Bump Heldman (Auburn, Maine), who placed a career-best 11th in the giant slalom on Wednesday, did not finish his first run.

Bates' combined alpine and Nordic ski teams scored 196 points at NCAAs to finish 11th out of 21 teams, 34 points behind 10th-place Montana State and 11 points ahead of Northern Michigan. Bates placed ahead of such perennial rivals as Williams (149), Colby (121) and St. Lawrence (95). It is Bates' highest finish at the NCAA Championships since 1998, when the Bobcats were ninth. It is also the Bobcats' sixth straight year finishing among the top 16 NCAA skiing programs. The Bates contingent included not only Holland, Canney, Heldman and Manter, but also senior Nordic skiers Kirsten Gill(Jackson, N.H.) and Natalie Ruppertsberger(Plainfield, N.H.).

In the women's giant slalom competition on Wednesday, Holland took 24th place with a two-run combined time of 2:09.13. Holland's second run of 1:04.79 was 15th best among the field of 35 competitors. She was also ninth among American skiers.