NORMAN, Okla. – Oklahoma senior Presten Ellsworth was named one of nine finalists for the 2014 College Gymnastics Association Nissen-Emery Award, considered the Heisman Trophy of men’s gymnastics, it was announced Wednesday.
“I couldn’t have ever imagined receiving this kind of recognition and honor for what I’ve accomplished here at the University of Oklahoma,” Ellsworth said. “This is more than I could have ever dreamed of.”
Ellsworth was the 2013 MPSF Gymnast of the Year and conference parallel bar champion who has helped OU to three NCAA second-place finishes and two conference titles during his time as a Sooner. An All-American on vault in 2012, Ellsworth is also an All-Big 12 Academic First Team and CGA Academic All-America Scholar Athlete majoring in criminology.
“It’s an honor to be recognized as one of the top seniors in the country,” said OU head coach Mark Williams. “Having been MPSF Gymnast of the Year, an All-American and co-captain, Presten deserves to be a part of that group. We’re excited to have Oklahoma represented for this prestigious award.”
The Allen, Texas, native joins eight other finalists including California’s Donothan Bailey, Minnesota’s Zack Chase, Penn State’s Adrian Evans, William & Mary’s Landon Funiciello, Michigan’s Sam Mikulak, Ohio State’s Michael Newburger, Stanford’s Chris Turner and Army’s Kip Webber.
This year’s winner will be announced at the University of Michigan during the CGA Awards Banquet on Wednesday, April 9, in Ann Arbor, Mich., the site for this year’s NCAA Championships.
Oklahoma gymnasts have won seven Nissen-Emery Awards, more than any other program in the country. Past winners include Bart Conner (1981), Jarrod Hanks (1991), Dan Fink (1998), Todd Bishop (1999), Daniel Furney (2003), Jonathan Horton (2008) and Steven Legendre (2011).
The highest honor in collegiate gymnastics, the Nissen-Emery award has been presented annually since 1966 to an outstanding senior collegiate gymnast based on his achievement, sportsmanship and academic excellence.
The original Nissen Award was named in honor of George Nissen, a former NCAA champion, for his contributions to men’s gymnastics. The award was re-named the Nissen-Emery Award in 1998 to honor Dr. Robert Emery, a Penn State graduate, who won the Nissen Award in 1969.
College gymnastics head coaches all across the nation are requested each year to submit nominations for the award. Gymnasts receiving a 50 percent vote of confidence from the head coaches are then placed on a final ballot and voted upon by the coaches, team captains, Honorary Lifetime Members, and conference judges. The award is inscribed with the motto: "The true champion seeks excellence physically, mentally, socially and morally."