Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


Although gymnastics has had its greatest development in the Midwest, Northeast, and Pacific region of the United States, universities, high schools, and clubs in the Great Plains, especially in Nebraska and Oklahoma, are known for their gymnastics traditions and successes. Men's teams at the Universities of Nebraska and Oklahoma have been among the finest in the nation. Under coach Francis Allen, Nebraska won eight men's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships between 1979 and 1994. After 1964 Nebraska won thirteen Big 8 Conference titles. Nebraska gymnasts such as James Hartung have stood out at the highest levels of competition. The University of Oklahoma has won three men's NCAA championships and seven Big 8 titles. Oklahoma's best-known gymnast is Bart Conner, a 1984 Olympic gold medal winner. Oklahoma women won the Big 8 title five times and placed second in the 1997 Big 12 championships; Nebraska women won the 1997 Big 12 event.

Other colleges such as the University of Denver, the United States Air Force Academy, the University of North Dakota, Texas Tech, Hardin-Simmons, and Odessa College have sponsored varsity or club gymnastics. The U.S. Olympic Committee maintains a training center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Maverick Boys Club and Nard's Trampoline Club in Amarillo, Texas, were among the earliest gymnastics clubs in the region, and the Sokol (ethnic Czechoslovakian) Clubs of Omaha, Nebraska, and Fort Worth, Texas, have long gymnastics traditions. The most accomplished gymnastics Olympian of the region is Shannon Miller of the Dynamo Gymnastics Club in Edmond, Oklahoma, who won seven medals in the 1992 and 1996 games.

Richard V. McGehee University of Texas at Austin

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