Nichols Wins Honda Sport Award for Gymnastics
NORMAN – Oklahoma junior and 2019 NCAA team, vault and all-around champion Maggie Nichols was named the Honda Sport Award winner for Gymnastics, the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CWSA) announced Tuesday.
Nichols became just the third Sooner to receive the prestigious honor, joining Keilani Ricketts (softball, 2012, 2013) and Kelly Garrison (gymnastics, 1987, 1988).
The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the CWSA for the past 43 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2019 Honda Cup which will be presented on a live telecast on CBS Sports Network on Monday, June 24, 2019, in downtown Los, Angeles.
“It is such an honor and truly a blessing to receive this award,” Nichols said. “Being one of the three athletes in OU history to ever receive this award is truly incredible. I also want to congratulate Brenna Dowell, Sarah Finnegan and Kyla Ross on being nominated this year as they are all incredible athletes.
“I am so incredibly grateful to be a part of such an amazing University, and having the opportunity to compete for OU,” Nichols continued. “I want to thank my amazing teammates and my coaches for everything they do for me and pushing me to be the best I can possibly be. Thank you to my parents for being my biggest supporters through it all. And a special thank you to my amazing trainer, Jenn Richardson, for being my inspiration this year and being my rock through this season. Without her, this season wouldn’t have been as successful. I also want to thank all the staff at OU, for all the constant support I receive. I am so thankful to be an Oklahoma Sooner.”
Nichols, who was named a finalist for the third consecutive season, became just the sixth gymnast to repeat as the NCAA All-Around Champion. Along with her all-around crown, Nichols was also the 2019 NCAA co-champion on vault, bringing her career total to six individual titles.
“Maggie has been a remarkable example of resilience and grit,” head coach K.J. Kindler said. “To finish on top of the podium two consecutive seasons is incredibly difficult when an athlete is thriving and healthy. Maggie has shown that challenges help us rise, focus and inspire. Her powerful impact on our sport can be felt at every level and her positive message is being received on a daily basis through her many platforms. She is a champion in every aspect!”
The 2019 NCAA Inspiration Award winner, Nichols was a first-team All-American on all four events and the all-around, bringing her career total to 13. She was a two-time NCAA regional champion (vault, bars) and a two-time Big 12 Champion (bars, beam) in 2019.
Nichols earned 27 event titles in 2019 to give her a program-record 120 in her career. The OU record holder for perfect 10s in a season, perfect scores in a career and individual national titles won, Nichols’ junior season looked as though it would be yet another record breaking season as she started the year with a perfect 10 on vault in the first meet of the season. Though an injury limited her to two events until nationals, Nichols has not missed a beat and has continued to excel, while also being an incredible teammate with a team-first mentality.
Nichols held one of the top two spots nationally on both bars and beam and finished the year ranked No. 1 on beam for the first time in her career. She scored a 9.9 or better on the apparatus in 13 of her 15 meets. On bars, she finished the year ranked No. 2 for the second time in her career. She scored at least a 9.9 on the event in every meet this year and has scored at least a 9.9 in her last 24 meets, dating back to the 2018 season.
The Little Canada, Minn., native was a two-time Big 12 Weekly Award winner, secured 27 event titles, recorded 36 scores of 9.9 or higher and earned two perfect 10s. She became the first gymnast in OU history to earn a perfect 10 on bars at an NCAA Regional and now holds the top spot on three of four events and the all-around in regional competition. She is the only gymnast in OU history with at least three perfect scores on three different events (VT – 5; UB – 3; BB – 6).
Nichols was chosen by a vote of administrators from over 1,000 NCAA member schools. Finalists included Brenna Dowell (Oklahoma), Sarah Finnegan (LSU) and Kyla Ross (UCLA). Nichols is the second OU gymnast to win the award, joining Kelly Garrison who won in 1987 and 1988.
The CWSA, celebrating its 43rd year, has honored the nation’s top NCAA women athletes for their superior athletic skills, leadership, academic excellence and eagerness to participate in community service. Since commencing its sponsorship in 1986, Honda has provided more than $3.1 million in institutional grants to the universities of the award winners and nominees to support women’s athletics programs.