Senior Jonathan Horton has been named one of seven finalists for the Nissen-Emery Award, given annually to the nation’s top senior men’s gymnast. Considered the Heisman Trophy of collegiate gymnastics, the Nissen-Emery Award will be presented at the 2008 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships banquet on Wednesday, April 16, in Stanford, Calif.
A three-time team captain during his Sooner career, Horton will likely go down as the most decorated gymnast in OU program history. The 2006 NCAA all-around champion, Horton owns Oklahoma records for career All-America honors (15) and career NCAA individual titles (five). Both marks were previously held by two-time Olympic gold-medalist Bart Conner.
In his four years in Norman, Horton helped lead the Sooners to back-to-back national championships in 2005 and 2006, as well as a second-place finish last season.
The Houston, Texas, native is also the two-time defending Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Gymnast of the Year and owns eight career individual conference crowns, including all-around wins in 2005 and 2007.
A member of the past two U.S. World Championships Teams, Horton’s performance at the 2007 Worlds in Stuttgart, Germany, helped the American squad to a fourth-place team finish and secured a berth in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. Horton finished fourth in the all-around standings, just 0.2 points shy of earning a bronze medal. He became just the fourth American men’s gymnast to record a top-four all-around finish at the World Championships and the first since 2004 Olympic gold-medalist Paul Hamm took the title in 2003. Only Hamm and Kurt Thomas (2nd, 1979) have finished higher.
Oklahoma and Penn State lead the nation with five Nissen-Emery winners apiece. The last Sooner to claim the prestigious award was current assistant coach Daniel Furney, the 2003 NCAA all-around and parallel bars champion.
Established in 1966, the Nissen-Emery Award honors the collegiate senior gymnast who has established an outstanding record of achievement in gymnastics, good sportsmanship, fair play, and scholarship throughout his collegiate career.
In addition to Horton, the other 2008 award finalists include D.J. Bucher (Ohio State), Wes Haagensen (Illinois), Derek Helsby (Penn State), Tim McNeill (California), David Sender (Stanford) and Luke Vexler (Temple).
No. 3 Oklahoma wraps up its 2008 home schedule on Saturday, March 15, against No. 8 Minnesota at 7 p.m. inside the Howard McCasland Field House in Norman. The meet will mark Senior Night for Horton, as well as 2007 NCAA all-around champion Taqiy Abdullah-Simmons.