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April 15, 2009
MINNEAPOLIS - Senior Casey Sandy (Brampton, Ont.) was honored as the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Nissen-Emery Award on Wednesday night at the Collegiate Gymnastics Association Awards Banquet, held on the campus of the University of Minnesota, hosts of the National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics Championships. Bestowed in recognition of outstanding athletic achievement, academic excellence, and sportsmanship, it is the highest honor presented in collegiate gymnastics.
Sandy becomes the second Nittany Lion to win the award in the past three years after Matt Cohen was recognized in 2007. Penn State now owns the NCAA record for most honorees by a program with six. Other winners include two-time national all-around champion Steve Cohen (1967), Bob Emery (1969), for whom the award is partly named, parallel bars national champion Gene Whelan (1976), and Spider Maxwell (1987).
"It is a great honor for Casey," said Penn State head coach Randy Jepson. "There are so many complimentary things I can say about him but there is one thing that epitomizes his success at Penn State. He is the only athlete I have ever had who has never uttered a complaint or spoke an ill word about anything we have done with our program. He has always been the consummate worker who brings out the best in those around him. I couldn't be happier for his success."
Sandy's legacy as one of the all-time greats in the storied history of Penn State men's gymnastics has been solidified over the past two seasons.
In 2008, he burst onto the national scene, winning 29 titles and compiling 53 top three finishes during the regular season. His impressive accomplishments did not go unrecognized, as he earned Big Ten Male Gymnast of the Week accolades four times. Sandy's success continued in the postseason when he led the Nittany Lions to their second Big Ten Championship, winning individual titles in the parallel bars and the all-around. For his brilliant performance, he, by a vote of the conference coaches, was unanimously named the 2008 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year. Sandy then went on to dominate at the national collegiate championships, capturing the NCAA all-around crown. With that title, he became the first Penn State gymnast to win the Big Ten and NCAA all-around championships in the same year. Sandy secured a total of six All-America honors, the most ever by a Nittany Lion at a single NCAA Championship. His outstanding season culminated in being selected as the 2008 Penn State Male Athlete of the Year.
This season, Sandy has continued his domination of collegiate gymnastics. In 11 meets, the seven-time All-American has captured 28 titles, including seven in the pommel horse and six in the parallel bars. Sandy tied the single season conference record by earning five Big Ten Gymnast of the Week awards and shattered the career mark for winning a total of 11 league honors. He has also been named CGA National Gymnast of the Week three times.
Sandy was denied the opportunity to defend his 2008 Big Ten All-Around and Parallel Bars titles and repeat as Big Ten Gymnast of the Year when he suffered a toe injury two weekends ago at the conference championships in Ann Arbor, Mich. and could not complete the full rotation.
In the midst of his exceptional senior season, Sandy also was able to further his burgeoning international gymnastics career. Competing in the Elite Canada 2009, he dominated the field, winning the all-around on both days thereby securing himself a roster spot on the Canadian National Team.
Sandy's impressive accomplishments have also garnered him attention outside of the gymnastics world. In February, he was selected as the 2008 Ken Giles Award winner, an honor presented annually to the amateur athlete of the year by The Brampton Guardian newspaper in his hometown of Brampton, Ontario, Canada. Later that month, Sandy earned praise one of the foremost and popular publications in the world, Sports Illustrated. He was featured is SI's Faces in the Crowd, a section that highlights standout performances by amateur athletes, in the Feb. 23 edition. Sandy was recognized for capturing a single-meet career-high five individual events titles and the all-around versus Minnesota on Jan. 31.
A dedicated and diligent student, Sandy will graduate in the spring with a science degree, intending to pursue a career as a pharmacist.
The Nittany Lions begin pursuit of their NCAA-record 13th national championship on Thursday afternoon at 2 p.m. ET at the U-M Sports Pavilion when they compete in a qualifying session of the 2009 National Collegiate Men's Gymnastics Championships.