Utah Utes gymnastics: DiLuzio is coming on strong

Published: Friday, Feb. 6 2009 12:00 a.m. MST

For Utah gymnast Annie DiLuzio, more is less on vault, less is more on beam, and she can go either way on floor.

The changes she made last Friday at Oregon State helped add up to DiLuzio's best three-event night ever as a Ute, and they have her feeling confident going into tonight's quad meet at 7 in the Huntsman Center.

No. 1-ranked Utah (3-1) plays host to No. 52 BYU (0-5-1), No. 32 Southern Utah (3-2) and No. 47 Texas Woman's University (1-3). It's the first time the Utes have ever met TWU.

The Utes may be without senior all-arounder Nina Kim, who missed practice with illness Thursday. Junior Daria Bijak will warm up vault and may replace Kim, if Kim is unable to perform. Other replacements would likely be freshman Cortni Beers on bars, sophomore Gael Mackie or Beers or freshman Stephanie McAllister on beam, and Mackie or sophomore Kyndal Robarts on floor.

Tonight's meet is the first of three meets in eight days for the Utes, who travel to Logan on Monday to meet Utah State and then go to Nebraska next Friday.

"I feel like it's going really well," said DiLuzio about her season to date. "I wasn't too happy with beam in the beginning because I started off pretty shaky, either falling or having some wobbles, but we've been working a lot on the mental, so it seems to be helping and building confidence."

At Oregon State, often a tough place to score well, DiLuzio had a three-event total of 29.625, best of her career. She tied her career high in vaulting with a 9.925, initially scored when she finished second as a freshman in the NCAA vault championships; and added a 9.825 on beam, just .025 off her career high; and had a 9.875 on floor.

On vault, it was more is less, as DiLuzio upgraded from a Yurchenko full to a Yurchenko 1 1/2, doing that vault for the first time in competition.

"I've done other vaults," she said. "This one is more friendly on my ankle and helping with some of the aches and pains that I have."

And, "it has the potential to score better. It kind of sets you apart from the rest. I still have other vaults I could do, but I feel comfortable doing this one, and I hope that it can help set me apart."

"That couldn't have gone any better," coach Greg Marsden said about DiLuzio's upgraded vault, which puts her back in the big time.

"I think this is big to her. She's always been known as one of the best vaulters in the world. This has been really frustrating for her in college to do that full."

Her other vaults score better but have been less consistent, so she's had to settle for the full, but, "It's so easy for her she overdoes it nearly always and does it so she doesn't score that well.

"This is going to be a much better vault for her. It's kind of exciting that we got this figured out, and this is the direction we're going to be able to go with her," Marsden said.

On beam, DiLuzio took out the side aerial and scored .2 above her best this season. "I don't need it," she said. "It was good to build some confidence on that event, for me to have a more solid routine, not full of wobbles or even falls.

"It doesn't feel great on my ankle, and I don't really need it. So why beat myself up and have another opportunity to have another mistake on beam?" she asked.

Floor has been DiLuzio's most consistent event this season. She's scored 9.875-9.90 in each meet, whether her opening tumbling pass ends with the triple twist, which is easy for her, said Marsden, or the double Arabian that is impressive when landed properly, which she can do most of the time.

"I feel confident with both of them," she said, "just kind of depending on the night and what happens ahead of me in lineup — if we need to hit, and we need a good score, then I have a routine I can choose."

Sometimes Marsden puts her last in the lineup so the choice can be made depending on the outcomes of her teammates, and sometimes she's fourth, when they know ahead of time which skill she'll do.

Gymnastics at the U.

No. 1 Utah vs. BYU, Southern Utah and Texas Women's University

Tonight, 7 p.m.

Huntsman Center

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