VERSAILLES – This time a year ago Versailles’ Noah Pleiman wasn’t able to run. Now he’s preparing to run in the Ohio High School Athletic Association state cross country championships.
Noah Pleiman was plagued by knee injuries throughout his sophomore and junior seasons. It took a lot of work and trips to doctors, but he finally has resolved the issues that have hampered him for two years.
“It really feels amazing,” he said of making it to the state meet after all his struggles. “Last year at this time I was sitting at home trying to figure out how to fix my knees. I wasn’t even able to run at that point. To be able to know that I’m going to be running at state, coming all the way from that last year, really, really blessed.
“It’s been quite a long journey. Sophomore year I had some patellar tendonitis, and then junior year switched over to an IT band and fibular head trouble. We didn’t really know at the time exactly what was going on. I actually went to an orthopedic surgeon at (Ohio State) who said that was the most swelling he’s seen in the lateral knee, ever. It really says something about how far my injury had progressed.”
Noah Pleiman worked to overcome his issues with cross-training and physical therapy at Ohio State. He also had running gait analysis performed and learned what he needs to do to counter his knee problems.
The Versailles runner had a good track season during the spring, and then in the fall he adjusted to a lower mileage training program for cross country. All the hard work has paid off, he said, as he’s finally feeling healthy.
“I’m feeling really great,” he said. “Actually I’m feeling better than I did at the beginning of this season. It’s really nice.”
Mark Pleiman, who is Versailles’ cross country coach and Noah’s father, said it’s incredible to see his son qualify for state after all he went through.
“As a dad, as a coach, you just couldn’t be prouder, especially how his career kind of had the slump, the downturn with the injuries and everything,” Coach Pleiman said. “It was a dream to watch him finish the regional race like he did. Not a lot of athletes get to go out the way he’s going out.”
Noah Pleiman broke the 17-minute mark for the first time at the Midwest Athletic Conference championships. He did that again the following week at the OHSAA district championships at Cedarville University and then ran a personal-best time of 16:56.66 at last week’s regional championships in Troy to earn a spot at state.
“It’s a storybook ending,” Coach Pleiman said. “Hopefully he can cap that with an even better time than he’s put up.”
Noah Pleiman hopes to finish his high school cross country career with his best race yet in the Division II state championship at 11:45 a.m. Saturday at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. He would like to set another PR, possibly in the 16:30 to 16:40 range, and finish in the top half of the Division II competitors.
“I’m just going to work on improving as much as I can before I go out,” he said. “It’s just trying to end my last cross country season the best I can.”
No matter how he’s does in the state meet, Noah Pleiman already has accomplished a lot just by making it there. A year ago he was a spectator watching teammate Joe Spitzer run, and now he’ll get to join him.
“I feel very blessed,” the Versailles senior said. “I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
All of the Versailles cross country runners are special, Coach Pleiman said, but seeing his own son get to race at the state cross country meet is extra special.
“All these kids that come out and run for us, you know we treat them all like they’re our kids; we kind of talk about them that way,” Coach Pleiman said. “When I’m talking to somebody it’s my kid and whether that be a Joe Spitzer or anybody on the team. But it is definitely extra special to have your own son out there and be able to cheer them on and doing that because you get to go home and live with them and see how happy and excited they are. You’re just proud of it.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.