Future College Stars: Kenna Stimmel Enters Pole Vault Chat

* Kenna Stimmel competes at adidas Outdoor Nationals as a senior in 2022.

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One of the nation's best girls pole vaulters in 2022 appears to be well on her way to becoming an immediate player at the NCAA level.

Kenna Stimmel -- formerly of Margaretta (OH) and now a freshman at Virginia Tech -- has vaulted her way toward the top of the Division I rankings in her first collegiate indoor season. She's currently tied as the third-best performer of 2023 with a 14-7.25 clearance at the Doc Hale VT Meet on Feb. 3 and sits behind only Arkansas' Amanda Fassold and South Dakota sophomore Marleen Mulla on the event leaderboard.

That 14-7.25 is a new all-time career best clearance for Stimmel -- and she's likely only just getting started with her development.

For Kimmel, Virginia Tech has so far created the perfect position for her in her collegiate debut.

Sure, there's the obvious PR clearance and national ranking that comes with it, but her progression up to that mark may be more telling of her immediate achievements.

Kimmel opened up in mid-January where she vaulted 13-11.25 for sixth place at the home-hosted Virginia Tech Invitational, which tied for a career indoor best in her first time donning a Hokies jersey.

Two weeks later, Kimmel continued her trend upward with another PR -- 14-4.5 as the runner-up at the PNC Lenny Lyles Invitational. That made for her first time surpassing the 14-foot barrier indoors, and she jumped up the national leaderboards.

Then came that 14-7.25 mark for another second-place finish at Doc Hale, only finishing behind recent Virginia Tech graduate Rachel Baxter.

No other freshman in Division I has cleared over 14-0 more than once this season, and only Stimmel and Princeton's Tessa Mudd have cleared it once among athletes in the freshman class.

But look at the talent around Stimmel, too, and she's in elite company.

Kimmel leads a talented group of girls pole vaulters at Virginia Tech that currently ranks as the best combined pole vault program in the nation. 

No other team in the country has three girls athletes ranked in the top 10 in the pole vault. Stimmel, along with junior Julia Fixsen, have both cleared 14-7.25, and sophomore Journey Gurley owns the ninth-best performance of the season of 14-2.5 to round out the Hokies squad.

Fixsen finished third at last year's NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, and Gurley was a NCAA Division II indoor champion at North Georgia last year before transferring to Virginia Tech in the fall.

Positioning herself right at the helm of a pole vault program that's earned quite the esteemed reputation could pave ways for Stimmel as she could be the next up-and-coming star at the collegiate level.

Prior to Virginia Tech, Stimmel set the Ohio state outdoor pole vault record and four state championships during her time Margaretta.

* Kenna Stimmel competes against fellow high school talent Tessa Mudd at adidas Outdoor Nationals in 2022.