Annie DiLuzio is only a high school junior with plenty of time ahead of her to think about college, but when she made an unofficial visit to the University of Utah to watch the Ute gymnastics team beat Florida, Stanford and California, she knew where she belonged.
The U.S. National Team member from Folsom, Calif., made an oral commitment to attend Utah on a gymnastics scholarship starting in fall 2006, meaning she will be a freshman when Utah hosts the NCAA Championships in 2007.
"I could just feel it right away. The atmosphere was perfect for me," said DiLuzio by telephone from California Monday after announcing her commitment to Utah by e-mail and on her Web page. "When I got there, I knew it was perfect. I could feel it."
She is the second early commitment toward the 2006-07 season for the Utes over the weekend. Sarah Shire, another U.S. team member, announced Friday she had also made an oral commitment to Utah.
The two are good friends, having been to elite training camps together, and there's some evidence they wanted to go to the same school, though decisions were made independently.
Shire, of Sweet Springs, Mo., and Great American Gymnastics Express, is a three-year member of the national team, while DiLuzio, who trains at Byers Gymnastics in Sacramento, made the elite program a year ago.
"Sarah is a really good friend," DiLuzio said. "Our personalities are the same. We hit it off." When Shire committed to Utah, "It definitely reassured me."
Both gymnasts were close to making the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Shire was 13th at the national championships and first alternate and have hopes of perhaps making the American 2005 World Championships team, which is apparently one reason they became the two youngest athletes to ever commit to the Utes.
Pointing for the national championships this summer and perhaps worlds in the fall would give them little or no time to go through the regular recruiting process as high school seniors, when it happens for most athletes, so they made their choices early. Shire has yet to visit Utah, and neither has taken an official visit to Utah, though both probably will do so.
DiLuzio, whose specialty and love is vaulting, said that, despite having just gotten her first international assignment from USA Gymnastics and training toward events this summer and fall, the next 1 1/2 years will be hard for her because she wants to be a Ute. "It will be worth the wait," she said.
Athletes are not bound by oral commitments, but DiLuzio said, "No, I'm not going to change it."The NCAA prohibits its coaches from commenting on recruits until after receiving binding letters of intent, which cannot be signed by Shire and DiLuzio until next fall on the official signing date for their class.