It is safe to say that Pless has exceeded whatever expectations he had.
The former Lovett student, who spent his last two years of high school at The Asheville School in North Carolina, recently finished a memorable four-year college career in which he established himself as perhaps the most accomplished track athlete in the history of Bates, an NCAA Division III school in Lewiston, Maine.
Pless won three Division III indoor shot put championships as well as earning 10 All-America honors and was named the best male athlete of Bates twice.
“I couldn’t imagine anything in track becoming the way it did, but it’s tremendous the way that it turned out,” Pless said. “I don’t necessarily use as the metric of my accomplishment my place in the national championship. It was really a learning experience I had along the way with the team that I was a part of and what we were able to accomplish as a team.”
Pless finished his college career at the NCAA Division III Outdoor Track and Field Championships in La Crosse, Wis., May 23 through 25, finishing runner-up in the shot put (58 feet, 8 inches), seventh in the discus (173-4) and 13th in the hammer throw (187-4).
It was an improvement over his performances at the Division III outdoor nationals the previous two years, when he finished third in the discus (173-11), fourth in the shot put (58-2½) and 10th in the hammer throw (183-6) as a junior in 2012 and eighth in the shot put (55-1) and 13th in the discus (155-10) in ’11.
It was the indoor track season where Pless made his biggest mark, however.
At the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships in Naperville, Ill., March 8 and 9, he won his third consecutive shot put title with a throw of 60-3 and was runner-up in the weight throw (64-10¾).
He was also national shot put champion in 2012 (60-6½) and ’11 (56-6) as well as a fifth-place finisher in the weight throw last year (63-2¾).
“I felt great competing indoors and I felt more comfortable,” Pless said. “It’s such a controlled environment — it’s warmer and there’s no wind. You don’t have to worry about any of the variables [of the weather outside].”
Bates track coach Al Fereshetain said Pless made a big contribution to the school in more ways than just athletically.
“David Pless was nothing short of sensational for us at Bates,” Fereshetain said. “Without a question, his athletic contributions were amazing. However, as trite as this may sound, that may have been the least of his contributions to Bates.
“He was a scholar-athlete, campus and team leader, a great friend to many and an amazing teammate and example to those who worked with him.
“To me, as a coach, he was the consummate gift. It does not frequently happen that the athlete with the greatest talent and physical attributes for success is also your most dedicated, hardest working and most coachable athlete. David has left a lasting impact at Bates, one that will be remembered and appreciated by generations of athletes and coaches to come.”
Pless began his track career as an eighth-grader at Lovett after he proved to be less successful at other sports.
“I got cut from the soccer team, was cut from the baseball team,” Pless said. “I joined track because I wanted to do something.”
Pless began to show more promise as a thrower when he transferred to The Asheville School early in his junior year of high school.
He was the North Carolina state champion in the discus as a junior in 2008 as well as both the discus and shot put in his senior season in ’09.
Having graduated with a degree in philosophy from Bates in May, Pless moved to San Francisco, where he is a salesman for Internet company Salesforce.com.
“I think sales has a natural allure for me,” Pless said. “I am very competitive and selling is a very competitive business and I enjoy that part of it.”