Men's Gymnastics, 1977

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Tech competes in the parallel bars during a 1977 meet [1]
The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets once had a men's gymnastics team, and their 1976-1977 season proved to be a very successful one. Men’s gymnastics differed slightly from women’s in the number of events that were used for competition: men competed in six while women competed in only four. The six in which the Yellow Jacket men’s gymnastics team competed were parallel bars, floor exercise, pommel horse, horizontal bar, rings, and vaulting. [2] The men’s team, coached by Bill Beavers, was consistently strong in parallel bars, rings, and horizontal bar; and improved from a score of 155.8 at the beginning of the season, to a high score of 186.5 by the end of the season. [3]In gymnastics, the scores of the gymnasts' performance on an event were determined by the initial difficulty level of the routine (from one to ten, with ten representing the most difficult) and how well the routine was executed (the higher the score, the better the performance). To calculate a gymnast's all-around score, the scores from all the events in which they competed are added together, and to obtain the overall team score, the scores for each routine each gymnast on the team received were added together. The team was led by co-captains Joe Credit, senior, and junior, Dave Smitson[4]; and also consisted of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) finalist Jeff Morrison. The Yellow Jackets finished the season with a record of seven wins to three losses, and had the best Southern Intercollegiate Gymnastics League (SIGL) finish since 1962. [3] [5]


Before the season: The Invitationals

The men’s gymnastics season began with the annual White and Gold Intrasquad meet. At this meet, gymnasts competed using the requirements of the upcoming 1980 Olympics. [4] The following day, the Tech team hosted an official meet against North Carolina State University. Tech started the season off well, having beaten NC State with a score of 155.80 to 86.05. The gymnasts of Georgia Tech received first, second, and third places on the floor exercise, pommel horse, parallel bars, and horizontal bar. Junior Dave Smitson was awarded first on the parallel bars with a score of 8.65, and junior Jerry Morrison scored 8.35 on both the rings and parallel bars. However, this meet was the first for NC State’s newly formed gymnastics team, and according to Coach Beavers, the "new team showed potential". [6]

Freshman Ken Walker on the pommel horse [7]

December 10th and 11th consisted of the Peach State Invitational Gymnastics Championship, also hosted by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. The teams that participated in the invitational meet were Georgia Southern, the University of Georgia, the University of Illinois Chicago Circle, Ball State University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Despite having hosted the meet, Georgia Tech did not finish above the other schools, though Tech was able to defeat the University of Georgia for the first time since 1966. The University of Illinois Chicago Circle won the meet with a score of 185.5, followed by Ball State University with 184.24 points, Georgia Southern with a score of 179.70, Georgia Tech with 163.50 points, and the University of Georgia accumulating 145.35 points. Tech’s team score of 163.50 was a ten-point improvement from the team score during the previous meet, and was expected to improve by at least 15 points throughout the season. The Tech gymnasts showed their strength on the parallel bars once again when Smitson received first place with a score of 9.15. Not only this, but Jerry Morrison was also able to aid the team in improving the score for this meet by obtaining second place on parallel bars, fourth on the horizontal bar, a tie for fifth on the pommel horse, and fourth all-around. [7]

The gymnastics season

The Yellow Jackets competed well during the season, falling behind only three schools to achieve a season record of 7-3. [5]

Tech versus Georgia

The men’s gymnastics season started off well with a win against the University of Georgia. This was the first official season win over Georgia that Tech had seen under Coach Bill Beavers and the first since 1966 (the win Tech saw at the Peach State Invitational was a pre-season meet). Georgia Tech was able to best the rival school with a score of 176.10 to Georgia’s 158.10. The Yellow Jackets succeeded in taking all but two first places and received first, second, and third place on parallel and horizontal bars. Smitson was awarded first on the parallel bars with a score of 9.1 followed by Jerry and Jeff Morrison with a score of 8.65 and 8.45 respectively. Jerry Morrison was also awarded first place with an 8.45 on the horizontal bar while Mark Keegan received a score of 8.10 and Jeff Morrison obtained an 8.05. Jerry Morrison took first place for rings and horizontal bar in addition to his second place finish for parallel bars. This allowed him to place first in the all-around competition with a score of 44.25. Similarly, his twin brother, Jeff Morrison, was able to take second place in the all-around competition with a 38.25 point score by achieving third place for pommel horse, second on rings, and third place on parallel and horizontal bars. Due to being plagued by injury, Jeff Morrison was not able to compete in the floor exercise which, according to Coach Beavers, was his best event the preceding year. [8]

Tech and Georgia Southern

Tech gymnast competes on the horizontal bar for the Georgia and Georgia Southern meets [8]

The next meet against Georgia Southern led to another win for the Jackets' men's gymnastics team. Tech beat Georgia Southern with a score of 178.25 to 176.55. Towards the end of the meet, Tech was losing to Southern by 10 points with parallel bars and horizontal bar events remaining. Since these events where the team's strengths, Tech was able to achieve first, second, and third place in both events. Jeff Morrison received first in parallel and horizontal bars with an 8.55 and an 8.50 respectively, as well as second place on both rings and pommel horse (scoring 8.50 and 7.70, respectively). Jerry Morrison was awarded second on parallel bars with a score of 8.40 and third place on the horizontal bar with a score of 7.75. Dave Smitson obtained a third place finish on the parallel bars with a score of 8.35 and Mark Keegan took the second place spot on horizontal bars with a score of 8.15. [8]

Georgia Tech versus Jacksonville State

Tech versus Jacksonville State on horizontal bar [9]

In the meet against Jacksonville State, the Yellow Jackets won once again. The Georgia Tech team had a final score of 178.9 to Jacksonville State’s 145.75. The Jackets won the top three places in horizontal bar, rings, pommel horse, and parallel bars, as well as took all but one first place spot in both individual and team events. On the horizontal bar, Jeff Morrison scored a season high of 8.65 and received first place. He was followed by his twin brother Jerry Morrison who was awarded second place with an 8.15 and freshman Ken Walker who took third place with a score of 7.1. The results for rings were similar. Jeff Morrison, once again, obtained first place with a score 8.9 (another season high), Jerry Morrison in second with 8.55, and Dave Smitson received the third place spot with 7.9 points. Senior Joe Credit acquired a score of 7.7 on the pommel horse for first place while Jerry Morrison took second with a 6.65 and Jeff Morrison took third with a 5.7. The scores on parallel bars placed Dave Smitson in first with a score of 9.1 (the highest score of the meet), Jerry Morrison in second with an 8.85 (another season high), and Jeff Morrison behind that in third place with an 8.45. On the floor exercise, Bobby Mee, scoring a season high of 8.05, placed first. Jim Haw received second for vault with an 8.35 followed by third place winner Ken Walker, who scored an 8.2. For all-around, the Jackets had two gymnasts, Jerry Morrison and Ken Walker, place first and third. [9]

First tri-meet of the season

The next meet for the men’s gymnastics team was a tri-meet against West Virginia University and William and Mary. William and Mary placed first with a score of 182.05, Georgia Tech took second with 175.45 points, and West Virginia took third having scored 157.65. The men of Tech performed well in their routines on the parallel bar. The team took first, second, and third place. Also, Dave Smitson, Jeff Morrison, and Jerry Morrison were ranked first, second, and third, respectively, according to the SIGL statistics. During this meet, Jeff Morrison had set a Georgia Tech record on the horizontal bar, with a score of 9.1. [1]

Tech faces Memphis State

The Yellow Jacket gymnasts defeated the Memphis State competition 183.5 to 118.9. It was during this meet that the Tech gymnasts made many season and career highs. Senior Bobby Mee received a career high for the floor exercise with an 8.5. Freshman Ken Walker performed an almost perfect vault, having scored an 8.95 with a difficulty value of 9.0. This meant that the highest score Walker could have received for his vault was a 9.0. Walker also received fourth place for parallel bars. Due to how well the Jackets performed, Memphis State was only able to take three top places in two events, one for floor and two for rings. Georgia Tech captured the remaining top places. [10]

Another tri-meet

The next meet was another tri-meet against SIGL rivals Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and Ball State University. While Georgia Tech was able to beat EKU, they were defeated by Ball State University. Jeff Morrison of the Georgia Tech team secured the first place spot on the horizontal bar, with a score of 9.25, having executed a difficult routine. His routine entailed a risky trick in the middle which earned him bonus points from the judges for being properly executed, as well as having made his score of 9.25 a school record. Dave Smitson also broke the 9.0-scoring plane with a 9.15 on the parallel bars while Jeff Morrison took second place for this event with an 8.9. Joe Credit had a career high on the pommel horse with a score of 8.05 during this meet against Ball State. Jerry Morrison performed well in all six events allowing him to take a third place finish all-around with a score of 44.45. Ball State had a team score of 194.15 in comparison to Tech’s score of 181.30 and EKU’s score of 167.05. [5]

NCAA Regionals and Finals

Jeff Morrison during the NCAA Finals on the pommel horse [3]
The Georgia Tech men’s gymnastics team placed second in the SIGL Championship, which was the NCAA Regionals. Jeff Morrison received third place in rings, fifth for horizontal bar, seventh for parallel bars, and tenth in the pommel horse. In addition to this, Jeff Morrison also placed tenth out of 30 competitors even though he was unable to compete in two events due to injury. Coach Beavers claims that had Jeff been able to compete in all six events, he would have finished among the top four. Jeff Morrison was also able to compete in the NCAA Championships in Tempe, Arizona, having tied for 24th in rings. [3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gonzalez, Jose "Jacket gym team hosts Tigers Saturday." The Technique 18 February 1977, Print
  2. Gymnastics. (2 October 2010). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved 2 October 2010 from
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Rodio, John "Gymnast reaches NCAA finals." The Technique 8 April 1977, Print
  4. 4.0 4.1 Baker, Nelson "Interteam tussle open Jacket gymnasts' season." The Technique 12 November 1976, Print
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Krebs, Steve "Ball State demolishes Tech gymnasts." The Technique 4 March 1977, Print
  6. Hatfield, Jim "Tech beats NC St." The Technique 19 November 1976, Print
  7. 7.0 7.1 Farrell, Robbie "Jacket gym team takes fourth in Peach Invite." The Technique 14 January 1977, Print
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Baker, Nelson "Tech gymnasts blitz Dogs and Southern." The Technique 4 February 1977, Print
  9. 9.0 9.1 Povinelli, Chris "Jackets whip Jacksonville St., Set season records in 3 events." The Technique 11 February 1977, Print
  10. Krebs, Steve "Tech gymnasts demolish Memphis State." The Technique 25 February 1977, Print

Emily Littrell Section A2

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