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5 elite gymnasts headed to Utah

Five elite gymnasts, including three current or former U.S. Senior National Team members, have signed NCAA letters-of-intent to tumble for the University of Utah.

All had given prior verbal commitments, as noted in earlier Deseret Morning News stories, to Ute coach Greg Marsden.

"I honestly believe that this could be one of the best overall recruiting classes that we've ever had," Marsden said. "I say that with regard to numbers, experience and ability. I'm thrilled and can't wait for their arrival on campus next fall."

This class "should keep us in contention for another national title as we prepare to host the NCAA Championships (2007)," he said.

Signing Wednesday with the Utes were Chelsea Coleman (Mesa, Ariz.), Jamie Deetscreek (Hatboro, Pa.), Annie DiLuzio (Folsom, Calif.), Stephanie Neff (Apache Junction, Ariz.) and Sarah Shire (Sweet Springs, Mo.).

Shire, a U.S. national team member since 2002, is the most internationally experienced of the five signees. Marsden said, "She is as determined and directed as any athlete I've ever known. I think her level of difficulty will astound our fans."

She placed second on vault and sixth all-around at the 2004 Chunichi Cup in Japan and was runner-up on vault, fourth on beam and fifth on bars at the 2004 Cottbus DTB World Cup in Germany. Shire was also recruited by UCLA, Michigan, Alabama, LSU and Missouri.

Neff was a 2001-02 U.S. national team member and 2003-04 Senior International Elite qualifier, was the 2002 Junior National Elite all-around/bar/beam champion. She was the 2001 Junior National Elite floor champion and first on vault at the 2001 J.O. National Championships. Neff was also recruited by UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Alabama and Nebraska.

Her USA gym career was good, but, "I think it will pale compared to what she will ultimately accomplish in college. The best is yet to come," Marsden said.

DiLuzio, a two-year national-teamer, was vault runner-up at the 2005 World Cup in Belgium and the 2005 U.S. Championships, where she was seventh all-around. She was 2003 J.O. floor champion and vault runner-up. DiLuzio chose Utah over UCLA, Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State.

"Annie has had an almost meteoric rise in elite-level gymnastics. In the last year and a half, she's become one of the best vaulters and tumblers in the world," said Marsden

Coleman was a 2003 National Junior Elite who placed 11th all-around at the 2004 Junior Olympic Championships. She trains at Desert Devils (Arizona) for Geoff and former Ute Shelly (Schaerrer) Eaton. Coleman was recruited by Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona and Arizona State, and Marsden calls her "the sleeper" of this large class and compares her some with 2005 senior Annabeth Eberle.

Deetscreek was 2004 Junior Olympic all-around/beam/bar champion and 2002 J.O. all-around/beam champ and qualified Elite in 2003. Deetscreek was recruited by Michigan, Alabama, Nebraska and Penn State.

"Jamie is absolutely one of the most solid and consistent performers in gymnastics. She doesn't have a weak event," Marsden said.