Jake Schonig Named Nissen-Emery Finalist
March 17, 2009
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Senior Jake Schonig has been named one of nine national finalists for the prestigious Nissen-Emery award, which is awarded each year to the most outstanding NCAA senior gymnast. This is the highest honor awarded in collegiate gymnasts.
Schonig has made a name for himself on the still rings, despite not competing in gymnastics until entering the Academy as a freshman. The team co-captain is a two-time qualifier to the NCAA Championships, the defending USAG still rings champion and a two-time USAG All-American. He is currently ranked fourth in the nation (first in the USAG Division) on the still rings.
Schonig spent the fall semester as the Air Force Academy's Cadet Wing Commander, which is the highest leadership position a cadet can hold. The aerospace operations major oversaw the daily operations of the 4600-member cadet wing.
Named to the Academy's Superintendent's List for excellence in military, academic and athletic performance, Schonig is also a two-time MPSF all-academic team selection and two-time CGA all-academic team honoree.
Schonig is just the fifth Air Force gymnast to be named a Nissen-Emery finalist, joining Terry Higgins (1966), Joel Miller (1992), Aaron Jackson (2003) and Jeff Andersen (2004).
Additionally, head coach Kip Simons was the Nissen-Emery award winner in 1994, while a senior at Ohio State. "Fifteen years ago, I stood among the top seniors in the country as a finalist," Simons said. "It's an amazing feeling to be recognized by your peers, coaches and judges."
Dubbed the "Heisman Trophy" of gymnastics, this Nissen Emery award has been awarded to the country's top senior gymnast since 1966. In order to become a finalist, the nominees must receive at least 50-percent of the votes from the country's head coaches in the preliminary voting rounds.
Other finalists for the 2009 award include Stanford's Sho Nakamori, Oklahoma's Chris Brooks, California's Kyson Bunthuwong, Ohio State's Jake Bateman, Minnesota's Kit Beikmann, Nebraska's T.J. Schmidt, Michigan's Phil Goldberg and Penn State's Casey Sandy.
"The engraving on the award reads `awarded annually to the outstanding senior collegiate gymnast for his excellence in gymnastics, scholarship and sportsmanship'", Simons said. "Jake embodies everything about this award. It is a real testament to the type of student-athlete that he has proven to be time and time again."
The 2009 winner will be announced on April 15 at the NCAA/CGA banquet in Minneapolis, Minn., prior to the NCAA Championships.