A combination of versatility, athleticism and talent has helped Annie DiLuzio gain her coach's trust — this despite not training her gymnastics' routines as much as her teammates.
DiLuzio is in a unique situation because of a beat-up left ankle. She had surgery over the summer, but added toe and leg injuries this season have forced the junior to rethink her approach to training.
"A lot of the girls were training upgrades, trying new stuff and perfecting everything during last week's bye," said DiLuzio. "I was with our strength and conditioning coach Jon (Webster) all week. I took the week completely off of gymnastics, which is what the doctors were hoping for me to do.
I told them I didn't know if I could do that.
"It's gotten hard for me this year because I've decreased my training of gymnastics and increased my areas of fitness. Not doing as much gymnastics gets to me."
Though DiLuzio is not pressing herself by training her routines as much, she thinks her focus on conditioning has filled the gap. That combined with varying her landings from front to back flips has helped with the pressure she feels in her leg when she lands.
"She is very athletic and a very good competitor. I know her well enough now that she can get away with that — with taking time off. She's talented enough, does her stuff easily enough and owns it that she can come in and do her stuff and not miss a beat," said Utah coach Greg Marsden.
DiLuzio did just as her coach said on Friday night in Utah's victory over Arizona State.
After taking the week off, she posted a career-best 9.95 on the vault and put up a 9.85 on the floor. She's become the anchor of the floor because of her versatility, though the vault is her favorite event.
DiLuzio has two routines she can do on the floor, with one more difficult than the other. The decision on which one to do depends on how her five teammates before her do.
"I really just see how things feel when I'm warming up," said DiLuzio. "I have that option to choose depending on if we need a bigger score or not. Either one is difficult enough to score well."
The decision on which routine is left up to DiLuzio.
"For the most part, that is her call," said Marsden. "If I really felt strongly about something, I might say something to her, but she's been pretty good about making the right call. That's really why she's in that sixth spot. Normally it would be Kris(tina Baskett) because she's a senior. But because Annie has the option to go either way based on what has happened and how she's feeling, I trust her to make the decision."