Jan. 15, 2016
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By JORDAN BUCHER
IOWA CITY, Iowa — With the graduation of three-time Big Ten triple jump champion Babatunde Amosu, the University of Iowa track and field team is calling upon an impressive set of heavy hitters in the jumps group to help fill the point-scoring void at conference meets in 2016.
“It’s an unfortunate thing losing a guy like Tunde because of his talent and character,” senior triple jumper Klyvens Delaunay said. “He helped push us and guide us to new levels. That being said, Iowa jumpers will always have a certain makeup that will be here even after we are gone. We adapt and grow stronger because we know scoring points in field events is crucial for our team’s success.”
Joining Delaunay this season in the horizontal jumps is senior Kerry Dean Jr. (long jump, triple jump) and third-year sophomore O’Shea Wilson (long jump) for the men, and sophomore Jahisha Thomas (long jump), a first-year Big Ten point-scorer for the Hawkeyes, on the women’s side.
“I have seen the team make huge improvements athletically and in team chemistry moving forward into this year,” Dean said. “As a team, I would like to win the Big Ten title, while placing top five in both long jump and triple jump.”
Delaunay echoed Dean’s sentiments.
“The jumps group has really come together, and we are ready to do big things,” Delaunay said. “I’m looking to win a Big Ten title both individually and as a team, and to finish top three nationally.”
In addition to a talented horizontal jumps group, the vertical jumps and multi-event athletes are looking to rattle the competition this season with the return of graduate student and 2014 Big Ten champion Khanishah Williams in the women’s high jump, and senior Kevin Spejcher, who finished third at last year’s indoor championships in the men’s high jump.
“I am excited about the jumps group this year,” vertical jumps coach Molly Jones said. “We have a few returning points scorers in Khanishah and Kevin and some new young talent looking to make an immediate impact.”
Jones on freshman Andy Jatis:
“Andy will be looking to make moves in the pole vault his year. The Big Ten has a lot of young vaulters, but Andy should be able to shake up the competition this year.”
Jones on Spejcher/men’s high jump:
“Our men’s high jump group has been looking good. We added a few new talented athletes and I am looking to them to continue to push each other to reach the seven-foot ranks alongside Kevin.”
Jones on Williams:
“In the women’s high jump, Khanishah is back for her fifth year after recovering from knee surgery. She is feeling more confident than ever. After changing take-off legs, she is proving what type of athlete she really is.”
Jones on William Dougherty:
“The multi-events are training hard, and Will is having breakthroughs in many of his events. I know he is pumped to get another heptathlon under his belt and reach scoring position this year in one of the most competitive events in the Big Ten.”
The 2016 season continues Saturday as the Hawkeyes host the Iowa Dual at the UI Recreation Building with field events beginning at 1 p.m. (CT) and running events to follow at 2:30 p.m.
?”Our only limitations are the ones we put up in our minds,” Delaunay said. “Mentally, I’m stronger than ever. This is my last year putting on the Hawkeye uniform and there is a lot I haven’t accomplished. I’m ready to go places my body hasn’t been before.”