MIT sophomore Cimran Virdi (Walnut Creek, Calif.) became national champion in the pole vault competition at the 2014 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships at Nebraska Wesleyan University on Saturday after clearing the bar in 12-11.50, earning All-American status for the first time in her career. Her 10 points helped to lead the Engineers to a seventh place finish as a team with 22 points.
Virdi is the first MIT women's indoor track and field athlete to win an individual event at NCAAs and is only the second national champion to come from Tech's track and field program — the first being Jacqui Wentz with her steeplechase victory at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Throughout the season, Virdi had finished first in the pole vault at four different meets and never came in lower than third. Qualifying for NCAAs for the first time in her two years at MIT, the sophomore went into the championship seeded fifth with a 12-06, a personal record earned a few weeks prior. After clearing the bar at 12-11.50 on her first attempt, just Virdi and Marissa Kalsey of Westminster College remained to battle for first. When neither could clear 13-01.5, the title and 10 points were given to Virdi, as she had the fewest number of misses.