It looks as though there could be a Norfolkan representing the United States in the next Olympic Winter Games.
Nicole Brungardt, who graduated from Norfolk Catholic in 2008, received notification Friday morning that she had qualified for Team USA Bobsled.
It has yet to be determined on which team and which of the bobsled events she might compete on in 2022.
Brungardt, who now lives in Omaha, learned the news Friday morning in Lake Placid, N.Y., during a team meeting that she had made the team.
“It’s been a crazy morning. That’s for sure,” Brungardt said via a phone interview.
Brungardt and others had just finished two weeks of training and trials. That included racing against the men’s teams, she said.
A total of 23 athletes were named to the USA Bobsled National Team on Friday, which includes both the men’s and women’s teams.
As part of the national team, she will be traveling with other members of the team all over the world for competitions.
The first World Cup race will be in Sigulda, Latvia, on Dec. 3-9. The season also features a World Cup on home ice in Lake Placid on Feb. 11-16, and the season will conclude with World Championships on the 2010 Olympic track in Whistler, Canada, from Feb. 25 to March 10.
The 2022 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place in Beijing. The men’s and women’s teams will get chosen about a month before that by the Olympic coaches.
Brungardt said there are still a lot of things that would have to go right for her to compete in the Olympics, but that is her dream.
“It has just has been a team of people behind me (that have lifted me),” she said. “My family has been just incredible, and I have just been relying 100 percent on God and having him open specific doors when I didn’t know I could do it. The team itself has been incredible.”
In two years of track at Wayne State College, Brungardt was a four-time All-American, eight-time all-region selection and five-time NSIC champion. Brungardt still holds four indoor school records — 60 meters, 200 meters, long jump and 4x400 relay and holds three outdoor school records in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and 4x200 relay.
In the summer of 2017, she qualified as a member of the U.S. bobsled team and just missed qualifying for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
After graduating from Wayne State College, she worked a corporate job at Century Link for 4½ years. Then she got the itch to compete.
“I knew I had more in me,” she said. “It’s been a dream come true.”
Nicole is the daughter of Tim Brungardt of Norfolk and Omaha and Julie Brungardt of Denison, Iowa.
Tim was a fullback and I-back at Nebraska from 1980 to 1983. His last game was the memorable Orange Bowl in 1984 when Nebraska lost to Miami after going for two at the end.
Naturally, Tim said he is proud of Nicole, especially with how hard she works.
“She was blessed with a lot of talent and has been blessed with an even stronger desire,” he said. “For a gal to be almost five years out of the last competitive event in track and then to decide she wants to get back in competitive Olympics, and then 18 months later she makes the World Cup team — that’s just unheard of.
“Most of these athletes are at least four-, five-, six- and seven-year veterans. It’s an unbelievable blessing,” Tim Brungardt said.
Team USA coaches said they are optimistic about the bobsled teams.
Elana Meyers Taylor (Douglasville, Ga.) earned a bye onto the national team with her 2018 Olympic silver medal performance. Brittany Reinbolt (Searcy, Ark.) and Nicole Vogt (Dallas, Texas) will join Meyers Taylor as the women’s national team drivers.
U.S. Olympic athletes have to raise funds to help with their training and competitions. Toward that end, Nicole Brungardt will be in Norfolk at Eldorado Hills on Friday, Nov. 16, at 6 p.m. for a fundraiser.
There will be items raffled off and she will speak about bobsledding, as well as give background on how she got interested in the sport.
Bobsledding isn’t foreign to Nebraska athletes. Curt Tomasevicz, a Shelby native, spent 10 years as a member of the U.S. bobsled team.
He earned a gold medal at the 2010 Olympics and a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympics.