24 Hawkeyes to Watch: Klyvens Delaunay

April 17, 2013

Watch the 24 Hawkeyes to Watch — K. Delaunay Video

Editor’s note: 24 Hawkeyes to Watch is a feature released Monday, Aug. 6, highlighting one athlete from each of the 24 intercollegiate sports offered by the University of Iowa. More than 700 talented student-athletes are currently busy preparing for the 2012-13 athletics year at the UI. Hawkeyesports.com will introduce you to 24 Hawkeyes who, for one reason or another, are poised to play a prominent role in the intercollegiate athletics program at the UI in the coming year.

IOWA CITY, Iowa — When you grow up in Claremont, Calif., there are seemingly limitless opportunities in close proximity to home. University of Iowa freshman Klyvens Delaunay graduated from Claremont High School, but his mother’s voice always lingered in his ears, reminding him of prospects away from the nest.

“My mom (Jessy) always stressed, never think anything is too far,” Delaunay said. “She encouraged us to branch out; I wanted to leave and go to the east coast or Midwest, since I haven’t spent much time there.”

If your last name is Delaunay, rather than flying from the nest, you jump. His oldest sister competed in jumps events at the University of Rhode Island, and two sisters competed in jumps at Western Kentucky.

“I have been around track my whole life,” Delaunay said. “I tried to stray away from it because I didn’t want to be like the rest of my family, but (the sport) caught up to me anyway.”

Delaunay is in his first year competing in the long and triple jumps for the Hawkeyes.

Instead of beginning athletics with track and field, the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Delaunay played football, where he earned all-conference honors as a cornerback and receiver. An ankle injury derailed his football dreams, so as a sophomore in high school, he fell back on an old family tradition.

Delaunay enjoyed success right away on the runway, challenging for a spot in the California State Championships during his first season involved with the sport.

He caught the attention of UI assistant coach Clive Roberts in the first months of 2012. By April, Delaunay took an official visit to Iowa City, and he was hooked.

“We started looking at some of the better triple jumper-long jumper combo kids in the nation, and he popped on our radar,” Roberts said.

The Hawkeyes beat out track and field heavyweights Alabama, UCLA, Southern California, and Florida for Delaunay’s services.

“When kids are looking to go to a program, they first look at the sexy picks and when they get down to the decision-making process, they look for a school of substance,” Roberts said. “Iowa is a school of substance. We have coaches that know what they are doing and those are things kids will eventually decide on.”

“I never heard too much about Iowa,” Delaunay said. “When I came on my visit I was surprised to see how much life, and how close people were, and how friendly they were. It was very inviting, very welcoming. The feeling I got was that I was in the right place. I knew it was the right place for me.”

Delaunay was a two-time placewinner at his first Big Ten Conference Championships in February, finishing fourth in the triple jump (50-feet-10) and seventh in the long jump (24-0 ¼). The effort in the long jump is a collegiate career best; he has gone 51-3 ½ in the triple jump.

“My indoor season went pretty well, but it didn’t go as well as I wanted,” Delaunay said. “I wanted to finish as a Big Ten champ, but unfortunately I was a little short on that. Overall, I consider scoring eight points for my team (at conference) a success.”

When Jessy Delaunay said, “Never think anything is too far,” she wasn’t talking about 27-1 in the long jump and 54-8 in the triple jump. Those are UI school-record distances established by Anthuan Maybank (long jump, 1993) and Troy Doris (triple jump, 2012). They are marks that will be threatened the next four years by Delaunay. In high school, Delaunay went 23-11 in the long jump and 51-7 in the triple jump.

Doris was a big influence in steering Delaunay to become a Hawkeye. Doris, Jeffrey Herron, and current teammate Josh Larney hosted Delaunay on his official visit.

“I picked his brain a lot,” Delaunay said of Doris. “I asked him a lot of questions since he is a successful jumper, I wanted to model my life around his and eventually surpass him.”

There is no problem trying to emerge from the shadow created by Doris, a four-time All-American for the Hawkeyes.

“Troy was special, and he had his time here at Iowa,” Roberts said. “Klyvens and Troy are completely different athletes, two different personalities. Now Klyvens is going to make a name for himself.”

Delaunay is a unique student-athlete with a unique first name. He said there is no background to Klyvens, which is a merger of two Creole words.

“My parents are from Haiti,” Delaunay said. “It is kind of a collaboration of two names my mom was arguing back and forth with. It translated out to Klyvens, so in a sense it is made up.”

In his most-recent meet — the Lee Calhoun Invitational in Macomb, Ill., on April 13 — Delaunay won the triple jump (48-8) and was runner-up to Larney in the long jump (22-11). Delaunay looks to Larney as a mentor.

“He has been through a lot and has overcome a lot of hardships and right now he is having a successful season,” Delaunay said of Larney. “He helps me along the way with rights and wrongs and what to do in certain situations.”

Another message Delaunay absorbed while growing up was to be confident. Both student (Delaunay) and instructor (Roberts) realize that confidence is a factor that will decide how far is too far.

“Confidence is everything,” Roberts said. “He has the ability to jump pretty far; he has the potential to be one of the best nationally in both long and triple.”

“If you believe in yourself and you believe in what you can do, then all levels will be surpassed,” Delauney said. “I’m a competitor and I love to win, so I will do anything to win at these stakes.”

The Hawkeyes return to the track Saturday, April 20, by hosting their only outdoor meet of the season, the Musco Twilight XIV.