© John Cheng

Courtesy Penn State Athletics

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State’s Stephen Nedoroscik received the highest honor in college men’s gymnastics on Thursday night as he was announced as the Nissen-Emery Award winner. He is the seventh gymnast in program history and the first specialist from any school to win the award.

The Nissen-Emery Award is awarded in recognition of outstanding athletic achievement, academic excellence and sportsmanship. It is presented annually to the top collegiate male senior gymnast in the U.S. The award was originally named the Nissen Award after George Nissen, a former NCAA Champion, for his contributions to the sport. In 1997, it was renamed the Nissen-Emery Award in honor of former Penn State gymnast Dr. Robert Emery for his support of the sport. Emery won the award in 1969.

Penn State had two of the six finalists for the award this year. Nedoroscik and Sam Zakutney joined Stanford’s Bailey Perez and David Jessen, Nebraska’s Jake Bonnay, and Illinois’ Michael Paradise.

"All of the nominees were outstanding," said Penn State head coach Randy Jepson, who was a nominee for the award as a senior at Penn State in 1983. "I think Sam had an excellent shot, as well. I’m thrilled to have another Penn State winner. I couldn’t be happier with the way Penn State was represented this year by our seniors."

Nedoroscik won two national titles and was a four-time All-American on pommel horse during his illustrious career at Penn State. Not a highly-touted recruit, the Worcester, Massachusetts native made huge improvements in a short period of time on his way to winning the national title as a freshman. He capped his sophomore campaign with another gold and then added a runner-up finish as a junior.

Nedoroscik looked poised to add a third national title before the 2020 season was cut short. He had the nation’s best national qualifying average (15.217), overall average (14.571) and the highest routine of the season (15.9). The 15.9 came in a meet at Air Force and was the highest pommel horse score in the nation in the last five years despite more stringent scoring rules.

"We were so thrilled to have two finalists for the Nissen-Emery Award. Both Sam and Stephen were terrific nominees," Jepson said. "It really stands out that Stephen is the only specialist to win the award in its history. That holds a special place amongst all of the all-around gymnasts that have been the perennial winners. That really says a lot to his level of expertise"

Nedoroscik was dominating in his final season despite taking on a rigorous schedule that included collegiate meets and international competition in an attempt to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The two-time U.S. National Team member turned heads with his performance at the Melbourne World Cup, scoring a 15.4 to win gold.

In addition to his success at the national level, Nedoroscik is a two-time All-Big Ten honoree and a four-time Academic All-Big Ten selection.

Nedoroscik is the seventh Penn State gymnast to win the Nissen-Emery Award, which ranks second nationally. He joins Steve Cohen (1967). Bob Emery (1969), Gene Whelan (1976), Spider Maxwell (1987), Matt Cohen (2007) and Casey Sandy (2009). Nedoroscik is the third Nissen-Emery Award winner coached by Jepson.