Instead, the rising Marietta senior ran the race of his life, recording a new personal-best time to win the men’s title in the fourth-annual event at the Cobb County Corps Property.
In the early stages of his preparations for the fall cross country season, and after finishing eighth in the Class AAAAA 3,200-meter run at the state track meet last month, Pleak surprised even himself Saturday. He crossed the finish line with a personal-best mark of 15 minutes, 56.47 seconds.
It was the first time that Pleak had surpassed the 16-minute mark. His previous personal best was 16:24.15.
“I’m just coming off track season, and I’m just starting summer training for cross country, so I wasn’t really trying to run a (personal-best time),” Pleak said. “But, as it turns out, that is what I did. I’m just getting ready for cross country season.”
Pleak was in second place behind Daniel Navarro, a runner at the Marist School, for the first couple of miles. Pleak, however, made his move in the final mile and took control the rest of the way.
“It was a little bit before the 2-mile mark,” Pleak said. “I could tell (Navarro) was getting tired — his breathing was elevated — so I took advantage, and I didn’t look back. I was trying to work on my finishing mile, which I did.”
Navarro finished as the runner-up at 16:09.48, while former Harrison standout and current Kennesaw State runner Ryan Burruss was third at 16:19.88.
Former Harrison runner Nathan O’Connell, who won the Gobble Jog 10K last Thanksgiving at the Marietta Square, was fourth at 16:29.94. Pleak’s Marietta teammate, Jake Bagwell, was fifth at (16:37).
Former Harrison cross country runner Marrion Kalafut was the women’s winner with a time of 21:24.04.
A rising sophomore at Georgia, where she is a member of the women’s cross country team, Kalafut edged out former Harrison teammate Jackie Thompson (21:27.70) to claim the top spot among the women.
“We were just having fun and not really out here to race,” Kalafut said. “No strategy — it was just for fun.”
Recent Harrison graduate Kaylee Isaacs, the 2011 Class AAAAA state girls cross country champion, was third among the women at 21:44.33.
Maria Boff, another member of Harrison’s class of 2012 who recently finished fifth in the Class AAAAA 800 run at last month’s state track meet, was fourth (21:45.24). Rising Harrison senior Elyse Bray was fifth (21:45.43).
Top male age group finishers were Pleak in 15-19 (15:56.47), Burruss in 20-24 (16:19.88), Ross Tucker in 50-54 (16:47.61), Max Warner in 14-and-under (18:34.52), Jeff Holton in 35-39 (21:23.15), Robert Hobbs in 45-49 (21:30.93), Eric Lowe in 40-44 (22:07.93), Jerry Stasulis in 25-29 (22:25.44), Pat Ridings in 55-59 (22:55.96) and Brian Saccone in 30-34 (26:35.29).
Top female age group finishers were Kalafut in 15-19 (21:24.04), Jamie Chandler in 20-24 (22:29.07), Andie Whitfield in 14-and-under (23:32.79), Cecily Abernathy in 40-44 (24:32.58), Natalie Tindall in 30-34 (24:57.25), Christian Burns in 35-39 (26:12.76), Carol Ravenscraft in 45-49 (26:15.74), Angelina Stasulis in 25-29 (27:28.67) and Janet Carroll in 50-54 (28:35.07).