Nissen Emery Finalists Eight Finalists Represent Seven Different Schools

The Nissen Emery Award is the highest honor bestowed upon the nation's top senior gymnast. To win the award one must have shown gymnastics excellence, success in the classroom and sportsmanship throughout their career.

A full description via the CGA:

Since 1966, college gymnastics' highest honor, the Nissen Award, has been presented annually to that year's outstanding senior collegiate gymnast. From 1966 through 1989 the award nomination, selection and presentation process was managed by the Nissen Company. IBM sponsored the award in 1990. USA Gymnastics sponsored the award from 1991-97. In 1998 Dr. Robert W. Emery, the 1969 winner, agreed to help the C.G.A. finance the redesigning of the Award and establish an endowment that would indefinitely cover the annual expenses associated with it.

The Nissen-Emery Award does not only honor the collegiate senior gymnast who has established an outstanding record of achievement during his college career. More than simply an award for gymnastics excellence, the winner must also meet these requirements:

  1. He must be an example of good sportsmanship and fair play...a champion in defeat as well as in victory.
  2. He must maintain a high standard of scholarship throughout his college career.

College gymnastics coaches, student athletes and accredited college gymnastics judges all across the nation are requested each year to submit nominations for the award. Gymnasts receiving the highest number of nominations are then placed on a final ballot and voted upon by those same coaches, athletes and judges.

The award presentation is held annually at the NCAA Gymnastics Championships.

The "Heisman Trophy" of gymnastics, the Nissen-Emery Award is inscribed with the following motto: "The true champion seeks excellence physically, mentally, socially, and morally."

You can find a complete list of past nominees and winners here.

Previous award winners starting top-left and going clockwise: Ellis Mannon, Paul Ruggeri, Jesse Glenn, Sam Mikulak

Now, the finalists:

Allan Bower - University of Oklahoma

Oklahoma has produced some of the best American gymnasts of the past decade. Just to name a few: Jon Horton, Chris Brooks, Alex Naddour, Jake Dalton, Steven Legendre, etc. It's hard to argue that any of those greats exceeded the consistency Allan Bower showed during his NCAA career.

Example: in 45 career PH routines (as of 3/17/17) Bower has ONE score below a 14.

Allan Bower Oklahoma Sooner Bio

Neal Courter - William & Mary

As a freshman in 2013, Neal Courter became the sixth W&M gymnast ever to achieve NCAA All-American status. In 2014, he led the team to their first ECAC team title since 2006 (just the fourth since 1991). Courter holds the record for highest score in W&M history (since 2008 scoring change) on FX & VT. No doubt, he has cemented himself as one of the best Tribe gymnasts of all-time.

Neal Courter William & Mary Bio

Zach Liebler - University of Minnesota

Zach Liebler has been one of the most fun gymnasts to watch on FX over the last four years -- and he's got two NCAA All-America honors on the event to show for it. Pair that with another one on VT and Liebler has put together quite a career as a Golden Gopher. Not only is Liebler firmly in the Minnesota record book -- his March 5th, 2016 FX routine (16.15) put him in a tie for third place all-time in NCAA history.

Zach Liebler Minnesota Bio

Jake Martin - Ohio State University

Even with a career where Martin has had to deal with bad injury luck, he's done some amazing things. Let's also not forget the season he's having in 2017. Martin is a two-time NCAA All-American and has a B1G title to his name -- both individually (VT - 2014) and as a team member (2016). Martin also holds the fourth-best PH score in OSU history (since scoring change in 2008).

Jake Martin Ohio State Bio

Akash Modi - Stanford University

If you want to read through all of Akash Modi's accomplishments in his NCAA career, you'd better get comfortable because it'll take a while. Maybe the most important accolade is the fact that Modi is a 3x NCAA champion (AA - 2015, PB - 2016, HB - 2016). He's one of just three Stanford gymnasts to win 3 or more individual NCAA titles (Steve Hug & Eddie Penev are the others). The 2016 Olympic Alternate will go down as not just one of the Stanford greats, but NCAA greats as well.

Akash Modi Stanford Bio

Joey Peters - University of Illinois

As a freshman in 2013, Joey Peters broke onto the scene claiming NCAA All-American honors in the all-around. Since then he's claimed multiple B1G honors both academically (3x academic All-B1G) and athletically (second-team All-B1G in 2015). Having personally been teammates with Peters, I can say that he brings more intensity to his performance in the gym and the classroom than anyone I've ever been around.

Joey Peters Illinois Bio

Colin Van Wicklen - University of Oklahoma

As a team & individual NCAA champion, Colin Van Wicklen has put together an impressive résumé as a Sooner. He's known as one of the most powerful gymnasts in the NCAA and packs difficulty unlike many others on FX & VT. Van Wicklen will forever be associated with the true rise of Oklahoma men's gymnastics.

Colin Van Wicklen Oklahoma Sooner Bio

Tim Wang - United States Air Force Academy

The argument can be made that Tim Wang is the greatest Air Force gymnast of all-time. He's just the second Falcon to earn multiple NCAA All-America honors and the first to earn the accolade in multiple seasons. He also owns program-record scores on PH, VT and AA (since open scoring change in 2008). The numbers and records speak for themselves -- Wang did it all during his time at the Air Force Academy.

Tim Wang Air Force Bio

Created By
Logan Bradley


Photo Credits to Jess Frankl, William & Mary Athletics and Air Force Athletics

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