Courtesy Oklahoma Athletics
NORMAN – Maggie Nichols became the first Oklahoma women’s gymnast to capture the prestigious AAI Award, the organization announced Monday.
Often called the “Heisman Trophy” of women’s gymnastics, the AAI Award is voted on by NCAA women’s gymnastics college head coaches with six finalists selected. The award is presented to the most outstanding senior female gymnast in the country. Nichols was chosen out of six finalists, including Kennedi Edney (LSU), Taylor Houchin (Nebraska), Maddie Karr (Denver), Mollie Korth (Kentucky) and Kyla Ross (UCLA).
The Little Canada, Minn., native was Oklahoma’s ninth consecutive finalist for the AAI award, joining Megan Ferguson (2012), Brie Olson (2013), Taylor Spears (2014), Erica Brewer (2015), Haley Scaman (2016), Chayse Capps (2017), AJ Jackson (2018) and Brenna Dowell (2019).
A member of OU’s 2017 and 2019 National Championship teams, Nichols was a key component of Oklahoma’s dominance the last four seasons. During her illustrious career, the Sooners have secured two national championships, a runner-up finish, three consecutive regional finals and three straight Big 12 Championships.
After winning a gold medal at the 2015 Women’s World Championships and competing at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Nichols left the elite world to join the Sooners in 2017 and lead them to their third national title as she became the first gymnast in NCAA history to score a perfect 10 on balance beam in the team finals.
Nichols boasts a hit percentage of 98.9, nailing 180 of her 182 collegiate routines. As a sophomore and junior, she hit 100 percent of her routines. She boasts the fourth-highest all-around score in NCAA history with a 39.925, set in 2017.
After setting a career-best all-around score of 39.925 in 2017, Nichols has added three other scores of 39.900 in the all-around. She is one of seven gymnasts to reach 39.900 but is the only gymnast in NCAA history with more than one score of 39.900 or better. Nichols holds four of the top 10 spots in the all-time all-around score list. Her 39.925 ranks fourth, while her three marks of 39.900 are tied for fifth.
The list of accolades Nichols garnered over the last four years is extensive. She is a six-time individual national champion, 13-time NCAA All-American and 17-time WCGA All-American. Nichols joined an exclusive club in 2019 as she became just the sixth gymnast in NCAA history to win back-to-back all-around titles at the NCAA Championship. She has won at least one individual title every year since arriving at OU. Nichols owns two titles on bars, two in the all-around, one on vault and one on floor. She also has a runner-up finish on bars (2019) and beam (2018).
In 2019, Nichols was named the Honda Sport Award Winner for women’s gymnastics and was a finalist in all four years of her career. She was a two-time South Central Region Gymnast of the Year in both 2017 and 2018. Nichols is a six-time Big 12 individual champion and has won an individual title on all four events and the all-around. She was the 2017 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year along with being named the 2018 and 2020 Big 12 Gymnast of the Year. She has earned 17 All-Big 12 honors and is a 24-time Big 12 weekly award winner.
Nichols rewrote the OU record books from the minute she first stepped on campus. After being just the second freshman to ever score a perfect 10 on any event, Nichols went one step further by securing a perfect 10 on every single event to secure a “Gym Slam.” Not only that, she was the first athlete in NCAA history to complete not one, but two “Gym Slams” after securing a perfect score on every event as a sophomore. Her 22 perfect scores are an OU program record. Nichols also boasts the program record for event titles with 148 and holds the record on bars (35), beam (30) and the all-around (32).
As a freshman, Nichols picked up her first national title on uneven bars, joining an elite squad of OU gymnasts. Her sophomore season, she added three more titles including her first all-around title, a second title on bars and first on floor. As a junior, she set the program record for national titles won with six as she defended her all-around title and earned a national title on vault. Before her career was ended due to COVID-19, Nichols needs just a title on beam to become just the second gymnast to win a national title on every event and the all-around. The senior ranks third in NCAA history with her six career national titles.
Nichols was not only an incredible gymnast on the floor but has been an inspiration to the entire gymnastics’ community. In 2018, she came forward as “Athlete A” in the USA Gymnastics scandal involving Larry Nassar. Nichols’ courage and bravery to release her statement just days before the season was set to start garnered her the 2019 NCAA Inspiration Award. Since coming forward, she has continued to be an inspiration and role model to so many in the gymnastics world and beyond.
Nichols is set to graduate from OU in the fall of 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She is a three-time Academic All-Big 12 selection and a three-time WCGA Scholastic All-American.