Colt Walker, Fuzzy Benas headline College Gymnastics Association’s 2024 award winners

By Patricia Duffy | April 18, 2024
Colt Walker wins the 2024 Nissen-Emery Award.
© Stanford Athletics

Oklahoma’s Fuzzy Benas was named Gymnast of the Year. Stanford’s Colt Walker won the coveted Nissen-Emery Award, which is given to the year’s outstanding senior collegiate gymnast who has an “outstanding record of achievement during his college career.” Oklahoma continued its haul with Emre Dodanli being named Specialist of the Year after a lights out season on floor. Illinois’ Brandon Dang was named Rookie of the Year for his pommel horse prowess.

Both Benas and Dodanli are virtually tied as Oklahoma’s statistical MVPs for the season, with Benas leading the team in the all-around with a high of 85.200. Five of his six event highs surpassed the 14 mark this season, with a 13.700 on rings being the only exception.

Dodanli’s other-wordly floor set has been undeniable all season, with a high of 15.250. He finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the nation – four-tenths ahead of Illinois’ own floor aficionado, Connor McCool. But you don’t become your team’s MVP by just competing one event; no, Dodanli has highs in the 14s on vault, parallel bars, and high bar this season. The Turkish national team member will look to carry this success to a hopeful Olympic berth this summer in Paris.

While Walker’s award takes into account his entire career – in which he is a three-time national champion and world bronze medalist with Team USA – he’s been a steady contributor for Stanford once again this season, including highs of 14.650 on floor and vault and a 14.250 on parallel bars.

Freshman Dang seemingly had no adjustment period to competing at the NCAA level, making an appearance at Winter Cup in February, averaging a 14.582 on his specialty pommel horse and peaking at a 15.200. The Fighting Illini have a stacked roster, so to contribute so significantly in your rookie season is remarkable.