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Utah Utes gymnastics: DiLuzio no longer dreads the vault

By Linda Hamilton

For the Deseret News

Published: Wednesday, March 18 2009 12:09 a.m. MDT

No longer does Ute junior gymnast Annie DiLuzio stand at the head of the vault runway dreading what she's about to do.

"When I used to do the (roundoff-entry) full, I knew that it was going to hurt before going, so I was kind of cautious with it and not really being aggressive" DiLuzio said Monday at practice after posting her second straight 9.95 in vaulting — her career high.

She is now doing a roundoff-entry (Yurchenko) 11/2 landing going forward, and that's so much easier on her sore ankles and feet that, "I feel like I can go all-out, and I have a better sense of where the ground is and (am) able to stick.

I'm not standing at the end of the runway knowing that what I'm doing is going to make me cringe when I land. That's a big part of it, because you shouldn't be thinking about that at the end of the runway."

"She's grinning from ear to ear the other night and must have said 10 times, 'I think I've found my vault,' " said coach Greg Marsden.

"It's a better landing for her.

"I think she's really happy because she's a great vaulter, and she's been very frustrated the last two years having to water back to a full twist that she could do week in and week out yet (had) a hard time landing it because she's so powerful — she always overdid it. This helps with that."

Though she had never done the Yurchenko 11/2 before two weeks ago, she used to do a vault in club that was similar once she left the vaulting table. It didn't have the roundoff entry but was a 11/2 off. So this feels somewhat familiar for her. "My air awareness seems to be a lot better with that vault," she said.

DiLuzio's vaulting and floor routines are so valuable to the Utes that Marsden said he probably won't risk using DiLuzio on beam any more this season to save on her injuries. He made the decision after DiLuzio did beam in an exhibition against Michigan on Feb. 26 and then almost couldn't do floor.

"One less thing on that foot," he said of holding her out of beam. She still trains the event, but she tries to stay away from the skills that pound on the foot too much.

2010 TIX: Season tickets for the 2010 Ute gym season are on sale. Utah set its record with 5,616 season tickets sold for 2009 and broke its own NCAA record for season average attendance with 13,861. The 2010 home schedule includes Iowa State, Georgia, Utah State, Nebraska, Oregon State/Penn State/Southern Utah and BYU.

Tickets are available at UtahTickets.com by calling 801-581-UTIX or at the Rice-Eccles Stadium ticket office.

LEFTOVERS: Beijing Olympics all-around gold medalist Nastia Liukin left Salt Lake City on Monday after spending the weekend with her best friend, Ute senior Nina Kim. Kim said Liukin has a training camp for the U.S. national team starting Wednesday in Houston, or she'd have stayed longer.

Kim said Liukin had the red Ute jersey that Liukin wore for Kim's Senior Night meet Friday specially made. It read, "I (heart) Utah." She also had one made that says "I (heart) SMU," where she goes to school.

Liukin said when she's near a computer on nights when Utah has a meet, she always watches the Internet feed. Kim said Liukin is trying to find the time to attend the 2009 NCAA Championships in Lincoln, Neb., April 16-18 to watch Kim's final meet, and Kim said Liukin asked her this weekend if she would come to the U.S. national championships in Dallas to watch her this summer.

RANKINGS: The second-ranked Utes hit for the cycle in event rankings this week. They're No. 1 on floor, No. 2 on vault, No. 3 on bars and No. 4 on beam. Senior Kristina Baskett remains No. 2 in the all-around and on barsand fourth on vault. Kim is fourth on beam.

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