Since 1966, college gymnastics’ highest honor, the Nissen Award, has been presented annually to that year’s outstanding senior collegiate gymnast. 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:
- He must be an example of good sportsmanship and fair play…a champion in defeat as well as in victory.
- He must maintain a high standard of scholarship throughout his college career.
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.”
Voting is by invitation only and extended to Coaches, Team Captains, Conference Championship Judges, and CGA Honorary Lifetime Members who will receive their invitations by email.
NAME: Sean Melton
SCHOOL: The Ohio State University
MAJOR: Hospitality Management
FIVE BEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- USA Honors: USA National Team Member (2013-14, 2016-Present), 2014 Pan American 1st place Team, 3rd Place All-Around, 2016 Osijek World Challenge Cup 3rd place on Parallel Bars, 2018 Winter Cup 1st place Still Rings
- B1G Honors: 6-time Individual B1G Champion (Back to Back AA), 2-time Team Champions, 3-time 1st Team All B1G Selection, 2014 B1G Freshman of the Year, 2016 B1G Gymnast of the Year, 2017 B1G Gymnast of the Tournament, 9-time B1G Gymnast of the Week
- NCAA Honors: 9-time All-American, 5-time CGA Gymnast of the Week
- OSU Honors: 3-time OSU Team Captain, 2 school record scores with 1 being an NCAA record, All-Around 91.6 (OSU record) and Parallel Bars 16.175 (NCAA & OSU record)
- Academics: 2016 Academic All-Big Ten selection, 2-time Ohio State Scholar-Athlete
Sean Melton Nissen-Emery
NAME: JOEL GAGNON
SCHOOL: UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA
MAJOR: AEROSPACE ENGINEERING & MECHANICS; MINOR in ASTROPHYSICS
- 3 time team captain (Sophomore, Junior, & Senior years).
- Helped lead Minnesota to NCAA Team Finals in 2016 & 2017
- Student Athlete Advisory Committee team representative for 3 years
- Recipient of the 2017 Henry Williams Legacy Scholarship given to the top male student-athlete at the University of Minnesota at the annual Golden Gopher Fund Scholarship Banquet
- Led Team Canada to the Bronze Medal at the 2016 Pacific Rim Championships
- Two time NCAA All-American on Floor Exercise, 2015 & 2016
- Broke school record on Floor Exercise (15.60) on Day 2 of NCAA’s his freshman year (2015)
- Successfully competed two new Parallel Bar skills in separate international competitions that are now in the FIG Code of Points (Gagnon 1 and Gagnon 2)
- Current member of the Canadian National Team, recently selected for the 2018 Pacific Rim Championships.
- Floor Exercise Champion at the recent Elite Canada Championships (2/3/18)
- resented with the Freshman of the Year Award at the 2015 Minnesota Awards Banquet
- Majoring in Aerospace Engineering & Mechanics with a minor in Astrophysics where he has a 3.569 cumulative GPA
- Two time Academic All-Big Ten
- Two time First Team CGA All-American Scholar-Athlete (2016, 2017) and Second Team CGA All-American Scholar-Athlete in 2015
- Helped organize team community service outings at Feed My Starving Children the last three years
- Completed over 50 hours of community service
- Team representative for annual Hope Kids Day Festival
Joel Gagnon Nissen-Emery
NAME: Kyle King
SCHOOL: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
MAJOR: Ethnic Studies
FIVE BEST ACCOMPLISHMENTS
- All-America honors on floor at the 2017 NCAA Championships
- Second-Team CGA All-America Scholar-Athlete (2017)
- 2017 NCAA Individual Event Finals Competitor on three events (floor, pommel horse, vault)
- 2016 NCAA Individual Event Finals Competitor (vault)
- 2015 Big Ten Vault Bronze Medalist
Kyle King Nissen-Emery
NAME: Brandon Ngai
SCHOOL: University of Illinois
MAJOR: Aerospace Engineering
- Youngest known NCAA champion across any sport (17 years, 9 months, 27 days old)
- 2016 NCAA Pommel Horse Champion
- 2x NCAA Pommel Horse All-American (2016, 2017)
- 2017 Big Ten Pommel Horse Champion
- 2017 First Team All-Big Ten, 2016 Second Team All-Big Ten
- 19 career pommel horse titles, good to tie for 5th All-Time in school history
- Enrolled at the Universtiy of Illinois when he was 15 years old.
- Bradon, in addition to majoring in aerospace engineering at such a young age, has taken additional time for some amazing side projects and hobbies. He co-built the only super-sonic wind tunnel on University of Illinois campus. He has a remarkable whistle collection and he has also participated in Rubiks cube contests with a personal best time of under 15 seconds! He is the mastermind and creator behind our “Meme Monday” social media concept which has propelled @illiniMGym to the most followed NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Team Account in our sport.
- Brandon is also a top 10 judge in the state of Illinois on the practical exam and continues to judge local and regional meets and give back to the sport in other ways
Brandon Ngai Nissen-Emery
NAME: Hunter Justus
SCHOOL: University of Oklahoma
MAJOR: Energy Management
- Justus has been named an All-American four times in his four years at OU. He has earned All-America honors on still rings three times, in 2015 (15.275), 2016 despite a knee injury (15.200) and 2017 (14.750). The Cypress, Texas-native was named an All-American on parallel bars (career-high 14.900) at the 2017 NCAA team finals.
- At the 2017 Winter Cup, Justus earned a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team with his 80.700 and 82.800 all-around performances. He placed eighth overall at the event.
- Justus has been a part of three straight national championship teams, not missing a single NCAA meet his entire career. In his four years at OU, the Sooners have not lost and have posted more than 80 straight wins.
- Four of his six career-high scores are above 15.000 including a 15.750 on floor, 15.550 on vault, 15.500 on still rings and 15.050 on parallel bars.
- Justus has been a model of success out of the gym, earning MPSF All-Academic Scholar-Athlete and Academic All-Big 12 At-Large nods in 2016 and 2017.
Hunter Justus Nissen-Emery
NAME: Robert Neff
SCHOOL: Stanford University
MAJOR: Computer Science & German
- 2017 NCAA Horizontal Bar Champion
- World University Games USA Team Member
- Finalist in the All-Around at World University Games
- 4 Time All American
- 2017 USA National Team Member
Robert Neff Nissen-Emery
NAME: AUSTIN HODGES
SCHOOL: UNIVERSITY OF IOWA
MAJOR: Human Physiology, Pre-Physician Assistant Program
- Five-time Deans list honoree
- 2017 – 2018 Team Captain
- Currently ranked 5th on pommel horse
- Competed in every competition during the 2016 – 2017 season
- 2017 1st Team All-America Scholar-Athlete
- 2017 B1G Academic All-Conference Team
- 2016 B1G Pommel Horse Finalist
- 2016 1st Team All-America Scholar-Athlete
- 2016 B1G Distinguished Scholar-Athlete
- 2016 B1G Academic All-Conference Team
- 2015 B1G Pommel Horse Finalist
- Competed in every competition during the 2014 – 2015 season
- 2015 2nd Team All-America Scholar-Athlete
Austin Hodges has been a remarkable Hawkeye. As our current captain his talent, work ethic and leadership has left an indelible mark on Iowa gymnastics. He is an artistic athlete with a quiet intensity. He has gracefully balanced his academic endeavors while helping my program become a standout team for our community service involvement. Austin epitomizes the student-athlete concept in a sport that stands above the rest and he has one of the best pommel horse circles of his generation. I am honored to nominate him for the 2018 Nissen-Emery award and believe him to be a worthy candidate.