OU Men's Gymnastics land pair of Nissen-Emery finalists
University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics seniors Allan Bower and Colin Van Wicklen were named finalists for the 2017 Nissen-Emery Award, given annually to the top senior gymnast in the NCAA. Considered the Heisman Trophy of collegiate gymnastics, the Nissen-Emery Award will be presented at the 2017 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championship Banquet in West Point, New York.
“They are both awesome candidates and we’re proud of both to be put up for such a prestigious senior award,” head coach Mark Williams said. “Hopefully we can close out their tremendous senior years the right way at the NCAA Championships.”
Oklahoma’s duo of finalists mark just the seventh time since the award’s inception in 1966 that a program has had multiple finalists.
Bower is a five-time NCAA All-American and a two-time and current member of the U.S. Senior National Team. A native of Chandler, Arizona, Bower has guided the Sooners to a pair of back-to-back undefeated national championship seasons and has seen his club win the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) title in three straight seasons. Last year as a junior Bower took home the MPSF title in the all-around. Bower is also a two-time MPSF All-Academic Scholar Athlete and All-Big 12 Academic At-Large First Team selection.
“Allan exemplifies what you are looking for in a student-athlete,” Williams said. “His is unbelievably focused on the right things and character is part of that. He has had an illustrious career as a Sooner, having been part of two national championship teams, having been an All-American in the all-around and now representing at the highest level as a U.S. National Team member.”
Hailing from Magnolia, Texas, Van Wicklen is a seven-time NCAA All-American and in 2016 he claimed the NCAA individual championship on floor. He has racked up 22 event titles so far is his Sooner career and has been an integral part of Oklahoma’s championships. OU’s senior duo has seen a record of 86-3 and is the midst of a 63-match winning streak, the longest is program history. Both Bower and Van Wicklen, along with fellow senior Josh Yee, are team captains for 2017.
“Colin is very similar, but with a more fiery personality,” Williams said. “He was a national champion on floor exercise and he has certainly been a vocal leader for this team. He has worked so hard as a gymnast and as a student.”
Oklahoma boasts seven Nissen-Emery winners in its rich history with three of those coming under head coach Mark Williams. The Sooners’ most recent winner was current assistant coach Steven Legendre, who won the award in 2011.
The other finalists for the 2017 Nissen-Emery Award are Neal Courter of William & Mary, Zach Leibler of Minnesota, Jake Martin of Ohio State, Akash Modi of Stanford, Joey Peters of Illinois and Tim Wang of the Air Force Academy.
Oklahoma turns its focus to the postseason as it wrapped up a third consecutive perfect regular season on Saturday with a win over No. 4 Illinois. Oklahoma will look to capture its sixth straight conference title as it travels to Berkeley, Calif., for the MPSF Championship on April 8.
NISSEN-EMERY AWARD FINALISTS
Allan Bower – Oklahoma
Neal Courter – William & Mary
Zach Leibler – Minnesota
Jake Martin – Ohio State
Akash Modi – Stanford
Joey Peters – Illinois
Colin Van Wicklen - Oklahoma
Tim Wang – Air Force