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Fegans & Matthews Punch Tickets to NCAA Championships Finals


JACKSONVILLE, Fl. – Georgia Tech track & field student-athletes Nicole Fegans and Bria Matthews cemented their spots in the NCAA Outdoor Championships finals after qualifying in their respective events at the 2021 NCAA East Regional Preliminary Rounds at Hodges Stadium in Jacksonville on Saturday.

Fegans punched her ticket to the women’s 5K finals, while Matthews qualified for the women’s triple jump finals. Earlier this past indoor season Fegans raced in the women’s 5K finals at national championships, making this the second time in her collegiate career she has qualified and the first time she has done so during the outdoor season. Matthews will compete in both the long jump and triple jump competitions. This is the second time in Matthews’ collegiate career she has qualified for finals in both the long and triple jump events, with the last time coming during the 2016 indoor season. NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field National Championships will be held June 9-12 at Hayward Field in Eugene, Or.

“It was a bit of a roller coaster weekend, but ultimately we got out of the weekend what we needed,” said head women’s track & field coach Alan Drosky. “Both Bria and Nicole advance to the finals in Eugene. They are both great competitors and the needed every bit of that fire over the last few days. Bria was able to secure her spot in Eugene on her final attempts in both the long and triple jumps.  Nicole bounced back after the disappointment in the 10,000m to grab the last automatic qualifier spot in her section of the 5000m today.  Their backs were against the wall.  They’re both champions and that’s how champions respond.  We couldn’t be prouder of them.”

“I’m proud of Alex (Thomas), Brian (Hauch) and John (Watkins); all freshmen, for making it to postseason competition,” said head men’s track & field coach Grover Hinsdale. “I fully expect all three to be back at this meet in 2022 fighting for one of the 12 spots to move on to the finals.”

The women’s 5K semifinal race saw Fegans clock in at 16:02.57, finishing fifth in her heat to earn one of the 12 qualifying spots. Matthews leapt for a mark of 13.46m/44′ 2″ in the women’s triple jump on her final attempt, garnering a fifth-place finish in the field to seal her trip to national finals.

Liz Galarza joined Fegans in the 5K semifinal, coming in at 17:21.79 to place 43rd. True freshmen jumpers Carla du Plessis and Shanty Papakosta also represented the White & Gold in the women’s high jump at the final day of East Regionals. du Plessis collected a 38th-place finish after clearing a height of 1.72m/5′ 7.75″, while Papakosta ended the event in 41st-place after a 1.67m/5′ 5.75″ effort.

“The other six women we had compete here were all here for the first time,” added coach Drosky. “They had outstanding seasonal efforts to earn their way to this meet.  They competed hard and gained some valuable experience.  It’s all part of the process.  They’ll be able to rely on this experience next year for five of the six who return. Mary Claire Solomon has had such a great career and has brought so much to our team.  We’re going to miss her.  But ending her career at the first round of the NCAA Championships is a special way to go out.”

On Friday fellow true freshman jumper John Watkins took on the men’s triple jump competition, hitting a mark of 14.62m/47′ 11.75″ to take 43rd-place.

Fegans & Matthews will lace it up again in two weeks at NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field National Championships, more information regarding the 2021 championships can be found here. The women’s long jump finals are slotted for a 5 p.m. (EST) start on Thurs., June 10th, with the women’s triple jump finals coming on Sat., June 12th at 3:20 p.m. (EST). The women’s 5K finals look to begin at 4:55 p.m. (EST) on Sat., June 12th. A complete schedule of the 2021 outdoor national championships can be found here.

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