Fresh and full of life

By By Tony Pizza

By Tony Pizza

Things in the Dumke Gymnastics Center had been fairly normal for freshman gymnast Annie DiLuzio. The only real difference for her was that she was used to training in a gym by herself instead of with 11 other gymnasts. On Jan. 11–the day before the Red Rocks’ opening meet against UCLA–DiLuzio got her first big shock at the U.

It seems no matter how many teammates tell the incoming freshman what it’s like the day before a meet, they still never know what to expect.

“Annie said, ‘Is it always like this?'” head coach Greg Marsden remembered.

DiLuzio–or Doozie, as teammates and coaches have called her–is among the most wide-eyed and positive gymnasts you’ll find training on a balance beam this year at the U.

Whether she is talking about her teammates or her experience working with the Red Rock coaches, nothing but praise and compliments seem to escape this Folsom, Calif., native’s lips.

Like most gymnasts that compete at the collegiate level, DiLuzio has been involved in gymnastics since she could walk. But instead of spending all of her time in a traditional gym, DiLuzio also found unconventional ways of doing the sport she loved around her home.

“I had a beam in my living room,” DiLuzio said. “My grandpa made me a beam, and I’d practice doing routines on that.”

Another big reason Doozie has found success at the collegiate and national level is because of the people who raised her.

DiLuzio’s father is a firefighter–which garners a certain amount of respect from anyone–but DiLuzio thought it was just cool because she got to know the guys around the firehouse.

And although DiLuzio’s father has always encouraged DiLuzio in everything she has done, Annie credits her mother for helping her make it in gymnastics.

“My mom was always really supportive,” DiLuzio said. “My mom always taught me that anything is possible?and to have confidence in myself.”

This support and DiLuzio’s hard work helped her become a member of the U.S. Nationals team, which included a trip to the 2005 World Cup in Belgium. For DiLuzio, nothing has made her more proud than representing her country.

“I really liked getting dressed up in our USA stuff and knowing that you’re representing your country–that’s amazing,” said DiLuzio. “Standing out there in the team jacket was incredible.”

DiLuzio did a good job of representing her country, too. Her second place finish on vault at the World Cup proved that she would be a valuable addition to any collegiate gymnastics team, but after DiLuzio made an unofficial visit to the U, every other school basically fell out of contention.

Like Salt Lake City’s founding father, Brigham Young, when Annie DiLuzio first stepped into the Dumke Center, she knew that this was the place.

When DiLuzio came back on March 6 for her official visit, she watched the Utes take the Georgia Bulldogs at the Huntsman Center, and shortly afterward she committed to making Utah her second home.

“The coaches are amazing, the tradition is incredible, the facilities are perfect,” DiLuzio said. “It’s so cool that gymnastics is so big here. The support from everyone is amazing,”

The journey that DiLuzio has taken to get from watching the Utes compete in the Huntsman Center to actually being one of those competitors herself has not been easy.

DiLuzio came to Utah with bone chips in her elbow, and at one time there was a question as to whether she would compete at Utah at all during her first year.

It turns out that DiLuzio is a vital part of the Red Rocks’ National Championship hopes, and the decision to have her available for three events drastically outweighed the risk of having her available for either all four events or none at all.

DiLuzio still experiences pain in her elbow that she receives treatment for every day before practice, but you wouldn’t know it considering the way she performs. DiLuzio has posted scores that have ranked near the top in every event she has competed in this year. She’s been consistent and composed despite performing in front of one of the most intimidating crowds in college gymnastics.

Now that DiLuzio and the Utes have enjoyed the friendly confines of the Huntsman Center, they will have the opportunity to test their skills in front of the traditionally strong Minnesota Golden Gopher crowd.

Going to Minnesota might not be like going across the Atlantic Ocean to Belgium, but here’s betting that DiLuzio gets nearly the same rush of excitement representing her new team in a foreign land.

Lennie Mahler

Freshman Annie DiLuzio executes her floor routine Friday at the Huntsman Center.