Honor Roll No. 8: Eddie Penev

We're down to our final three 2012-2013 Honor Roll inductees. A men's gymnastics representative gets the next nod. Eddie Penev won the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy in his sport. Read on for more.

In an April 25 article, we released the 30 finalists for The Bootleg Honor Roll award for the 2012-‘13 school-year.

The criteria are as follows:

Each academic year, The Bootleg's Honor Roll will recognize the top ten Stanford student-athletes who have performed at an exceptional level, with athletic accomplishments that are both extraordinary and inspirational. While achieving athletic success, these athletes should also have displayed uncommon leadership, sportsmanship and respect towards their fellow teammates and opponents. Finally, these honorees' performances and actions should also demonstrate their love for their particular sport as well.

We are now releasing the 10 winners of this award, one by one. Our previously announced members of the Honor Roll are baseball's Mark Appel, field hockey's Becky Dru, swimmer David Nolan, distance runner Kathy Kroeger, diver Kristian Ipsen, tennis' Nicole Gibbs and water polo's Melissa Seidemann. Our eighth announced member of The Bootleg's 2012-2013 Honor Roll is gymnast Eddie Penev.

Toby Gerhart couldn't do it. Neither could Andrew Luck. For Eddie Penev, it was no problem.

True, Penev didn't have to deal with Cam Newton or Mark Ingram, or regional bias, or 119 other Division I teams in his sport, each 85 strong, but work with us. In 2009, the Heisman Trophy eluded Gerhart, who may have had the superior season, but with Stanford then an unknown upstart, Ingram had the benefit of the superior program, and shortly thereafter, the Heisman. Luck is on a trajectory that would leave him one of the all-time great quarterbacks when it's all said and done. Still, not every Hall of Famer will win a Heisman, and it's hard to argue with the selectors electing Newton (a national champion) or Robert Griffin III (a superlative season, arguably continuing to redefine the quarterback position).

We need make no excuses, however, for Eddie Penev. The Nissen-Emery Award is men's gymnastics' Heisman and Penev, a senior from Rochester, N.Y., became the first Cardinal to win the award since 2004. Now, he graduates the Farm a three-time NCAA Champion and nine-time All-American (which, incredibly, is only tied for fourth-most in the school books).

His national titles came as a freshman on the vault and as a junior in vault and floor. In between, as a sophomore, Penev helped lead Stanford to a national title. This year, while Penev didn't capture gold, he still found himself on the podium repeatedly. He placed second on the floor and third in the all-around at the NCAA Finals to lead the squad to a third-place team finish, the best finish by any Stanford men's team this year.

Next up for Penev is a shot at greater glory yet. He is scheduled to train with the U.S. National team this summer, and then compete in the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in August, all with an eye on eventually qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The world stage will not be entirely new to Penev, as he has trained with the Bulgarian national team and tied for sixth on floor at the 2010 World Championships.

As he chases his Olympic dreams, Penev will leave Stanford with more than his share of hardware and memories also worth their weight in gold.

"The one thing that has stood out at Stanford is how awesome the people are," Penev told Go Stanford. "I've made friendships and memories that are going to last me forever."


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