April 13, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Oklahoma gymnast Steven Legendre is the winner of the 2011 Nissen-Emery Award, given annually to the nation's most outstanding senior collegiate gymnast. The honor was presented at an awards dinner Wednesday night on the eve of the 2011 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships on the campus of Ohio State University.
Legendre is the seventh Sooner to garner collegiate gymnastics' top honor. OU's seven honorees lead the nation, with Legendre's award breaking a tie between Oklahoma and Penn State for the top spot. Previous Nissen winners from OU include Jonathan Horton (2008), Daniel Furney (2003), Todd Bishop (1999), Dan Fink (1998), Jarrod Hanks (1991) and Bart Conner (1981).
"Winning the award was pretty awesome and a surreal feeling," said Legendre. "Each candidate was well qualified and I feel honored to win it."
A two-time team captain during his Sooner career, Legendre will likely go down as the most decorated gymnast in OU program history. The 2009 NCAA all-around champion, Legendre already owns Oklahoma records for career NCAA individual titles at six, mark previously held by Olympic silver and bronze medalist Jonathan Horton. Legendre is also a nine-time All-American, tied for third most collected by a Sooner in program history.
"Being given this award is a tremendous honor and I feel humbled," added Legendre. "It feels great to join many other great Oklahoma gymnasts to win this award."
In his four years in Norman, Legendre has helped lead the Sooners to the 2008 National Championship as well as two third-place finishes the two last seasons.
The Port Jefferson, N.Y., native has helped OU win two conference titles in 2008 and 2010 during his career, while collecting three individual titles (floor, 2008; vault, 2009; floor, 2010).
Legendre, a U.S. Senior National Team member, has been a world finalist on floor in the last two World Gymnastics Championships. He has competed in five international events, claiming four medals in team and individual competition.
In claiming the award, Legendre beat out six other finalists including Brandon Wynn (Ohio State), Tim Gentry (Stanford), Bryan Del Castillo (Cal), Kyle Bunthuwong (Cal), Daniel Ribeiro (Illinois) and Chris Cameron (Michigan)
Legendre and the top-ranked Sooners begin NCAA Championship competition Thursday in the first of two qualifying sessions. The top three teams from each qualifying session will advance to Friday's Team finals. Joining OU in the first qualifying session are No. 4 Illinois, No. 5 Penn State, No. 8 Minnesota, No. 9 Air Force and No. 12 Illinois-Chicago. Oklahoma will be looking to win the program's ninth national title.
Throughout the week, SoonerSports.com will feature exclusive behind-the-scenes coverage of the 2011 NCAA Men's Gymnastics Championships, as well as live scoring and recaps from all three days of competition.