Women’s track and field finishes fifth at NCAA indoor championship

Virdi ‘16 claims third straight national pole vault title

Women’s track and field placed fifth overall with 27 points at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championship — the second straight season and third time in program history that the Cardinal and Gray have earned top-five honors.

On the first day of the championship meet, Cimran Virdi ’16 won her third consecutive national pole vault title with a facility record height of 13-feet, 6.5-inches (4.13m).

It took Virdi only five jumps to win her third straight title as she sealed it on her first attempt after both she and top-seeded Katherine Pitman from Ithaca College had cleared the 12-feet and 11.5-inches (3.95m) mark with ease. Pittman missed on her three attempts at the 4.00m leap, which left the championship in the hands of Virdi.

Virdi then eclipsed the 4.05m height to break both the MIT indoor and the facility record at 4.13m, which she cleared on her very first attempt. The old MIT best of 16-feet, 6.25-inches (4.12m) was set by Karin Fisher ’11, at the ECAC Division III Championship back on March 5, 2011.

Mary Eccles ’18 earned tenth place in the 5000-meter run, the longest individual event of the championship. Eccles crossed the line in 17:31.00.

Maryann Gong ’17 paced the Engineers’ efforts on the second day of the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championship with a pair of top-three finishes. Gong began the day for MIT in the championship heat of the mile. As she did a year ago, Gong claimed third place in the event for All-America accolades with a time of 4:54.67, which was 2.15 seconds quicker than last season’s mark at the championship meet.

Later in the afternoon, the junior attempted to repeat as the national champion in the 3000-meter run. This year, Gong ran a time of 9:34.99 for second place and her third All-America award of the meet. She finished behind Amy Regan from Stevens Institute of Technology, who crossed the line in 9:30.80. Gong bested the Division III meet record (9:38.72) and the facility record (9:46.32) this season.

Nicole Zeinstra ’16 crossed the finish line in a time of 10:07.52 for 15th place in the 3000m. This was the senior’s first time running in the 3000m race at the NCAA Division III Championship.

After a two-week hiatus, the MIT women’s track and field team will kick off their outdoor season with a trip out west to San Diego State University for the Aztec Invitational on Friday, March 25.