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Two Duanesburg Eagles still hope to wing it to Olympics

Two Duanesburg Eagles still hope to wing it to Olympics

Nick Gwiazdowski (wrestling), Emma White (cycling) doing what they can to train up to a possible spot with Team USA
Two Duanesburg Eagles still hope to wing it to Olympics
Two-time NCAA champion Nick Gwiazdowski is coming off a gold medal at the Pan Am meet in Ottawa on Sunday.
Photographer: NC State Athletics photo

The odds of someone from the small Schenectady County town of Duanesburg making the Olympics might seem pretty low.

Nevertheless, Duanesburg has a shot to send two of its favorite natives there this year.

Like everything else these days, it will all depend on whether the Summer Games, scheduled for July 24-Aug. 9 in Tokyo, even happen, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But 22-year-old Emma White (cycling) and 27-year-old Nick Gwiazdowski (freestyle wrestling) aren't just cooling their heels waiting for something to happen, they're on the verge of the final big training push to make Team USA, White in track cycling's team pursuit, and Gwiazdowski at 125 kg in freestyle.

Gwiazdowski is coming off a gold medal at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa on Sunday, a performance that guaranteed Team USA a berth in the Olympics at that weight class.

For Gwiazdowski himself to make the Olympic Team, for which there will only be one representative from each of six weight classes, he'll have to settle that at the U.S. Olympic Trials, scheduled for April 4-5 at Penn State, but on hold because of COVID-19.

"I knew it probably wasn't going to be until May, anyway," he said by phone from his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, on Tuesday afternoon. "It probably wasn't going to be in April. That said, this gives me more time to train. I've got to be mature about it and do the preparation that I need.

"I'll take my chances [in the 125 kg field], man. I've competed against everybody in my class, or if I haven't, I've trained with them or I have wins over people who have wins over them. I'll be ready."

Gwiazdowski had hoped for more rigorous competition in Ottawa, but two of his four match victories came by injury default.

He won 10-0 decisions in the other two, and got Team USA on board for Olympic participation at 125 by making the final.

"It was an important event," he said. "This was my fourth time at Pan Am, and there was a lot of familiar competition, and it also means that Team USA will send someone to the Olympics.

"I was looking forward to getting some good competition in Ottawa, but what are you going to do? That's the risk you take. You work really hard, and you want to test yourself. I won the first two decisions by tech fall, and I wanted a little bit of a fight."

White, a Union College graduate, is still basking in the glow of her contribution to Team USA's gold medal in at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships in Berlin, Germany, on Feb. 27.

The Olympic team is scheduled to be officially announced on May 1, and with the upcoming road scheduled canceled, she's at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, maintaining her fitness and form.

She might make a trip home for a week in April, but the team is sort of self-sequestered at the Training Center, and she'll have plenty to do if that brief break from training doesn't happen.

"I feel pretty safe here, actually, in our big Lysol bubble," she said. "They'll exhaust every opportunity to make this happen. It's still a long way away.

"Right now, we were supposed to be starting our road season, but pretty much the entire spring is canceled. I'm still doing the road training for the base miles, which is important fitness to have in the bank."

Her routine includes double workouts every morning and afternoon, track-only three times a week and gym or road riding workouts mixed in the other days.

Besides winning gold in team pursuit in Berlin with Chloe Dygert, Jennifer Valente and Lily Williams, White was tossed into the individual pursuit, an event dominated by her teammate Dygert, who broke her own world record.

"I ended up sixth, but I was thrilled," White said. "I was so happy. I hadn't trained for it. I finished three seconds ahead of what we had planned, so I felt good, and surprised myself and my coach, which doesn't happen very often. I'm glad I did it.

"It [world championship in team pursuit] was a good confidence boost, but there's still a lot of work to do, because we know every team is going to bring 100% of their resources this summer.

"We're still hopeful. You hope everything calms down."

White and Gwiazdowski went to the same high school, but were separated by enough years to not have officially crossed paths until Gwiazdowski got his turn to spend a few weeks at the Training Center last year.

"That's awesome," Gwiazdowski said. "I knew her brother Curtis, and then we were both at the Olympic Training Center last year. So, yeah, that was pretty cool, and then she won at the World Championships, which is a huge accomplishment."

"Right? You'd never think so because it's this middle-of-nowhere town," White said. "I felt like I knew him because he was such a star in school.

"It would be so cool if we both made it to Tokyo."

Reach Mike MacAdam at 518-395-3146 or [email protected]. Follow on Twitter @Mike_MacAdam.

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