Russ Hoffman was without a doubt the nation’s best performer on the pommel horse during his Cyclone career from 1969-72. A native of Hinsdale, Ill., Hoffman rewrote the ISU record book while dominating the pommel horse event, winning three NCAA pommel horse titles (1970, 1971, 1972) and four Big Eight pommel horse crowns (1969, 1970, 1971, 1972). He is the only Cyclone gymnast in school history to win an NCAA event three consecutive years and was the first performer in the nation to win three NCAA pommel horse titles in a row. At that time, he was just the second competitor in NCAA history to win the national title in the same event for three consecutive seasons.
Hoffman won his first NCAA pommel horse title as a sophomore in 1970, as the Cyclones won the Big Eight crown and finished NCAA runners-up. He wrapped up his second NCAA title in the pommel horse in 1971 with a score of 18.650. Hoffman, along with teammate Brent Simmons, who won a pair of individual titles in the parallel bars and horizontal bar, paced the Cyclones to their first ever NCAA team title. It was the first of three NCAA crowns (1971, 1973, 1974) the Cyclones would win under Hall of Fame head coach Ed Gagnier.
Hoffman was named team captain for his senior campaign (1972) where he once again reigned supreme on the pommel horse, claiming his third NCAA title with a score of 18.950 as the Cyclones finished second as a team. He was one of eight finalists for the Nissen Award, an award given annually to the nation’s best collegiate gymnast. In Hoffman’s four seasons with the Cyclones, ISU finished third, second, first and second nationally while compiling a 36-3 dual meet mark.