Weinzheimer overcomes brain tumor, returns to win state javelin title
by Marc Aceves | Patterson Irrigator
Jun 05, 2013 | 1682 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
An abnormal growth in the pituitary gland — the part of the brain that regulates the body’s balance of hormones — caused Kianna Weinzheimer to lose vision in both eyes. As a result, she was left with only one option: the walnut-sized tumor had to go.

In a span of one season, the 2009 Patterson High graduate went from the 2010-11 National Junior College Athletic Association’s second-best female athlete in the javelin, to a five-and-a-half hour surgery and three-day stay at Fremont’s Washington Memorial Hospital.

“My (pituitary) gland was nearly 90 percent shut down. My body was tweaking out, and I knew it had to be removed,” Weinzheimer said. “I can confidently say I was never scared, even when I was in the operating room laying on the table with surgeons surrounding me. I was so happy to be there. I was ready for (the tumor) to be gone.”

Returning to competition after taking the 2011-12 season off to recover from surgery, the Modesto Junior College sophomore proved she wasn’t going anywhere by recording a personal-best throw of 142 feet, 11 inches, to win a state title May 11 at the California Community College Track and Field Championships at the College of San Mateo.

Before the surgery in March of 2012, Weinzheimer didn’t know if the tumor was cancerous or not. After the operation, tests confirmed it was benign.

Weinzheimer, 21, was determined to come back at peak form.

“It took me a year after the operation to feel completely healthy again,” Weinzheimer said. “It wasn’t until recently I could say I feel great. It is a total 180 degrees from where I was a year ago.”

Weinzheimer, as well as hammer throw winner and teammate Markus Sanders, became Modesto Junior College’s first state champion since 2006.

“I honestly didn’t know it had been that long since Modesto Junior College won a state event,” Weinzheimer said. “I know I made my coaches proud and I did all that I could.”

Seeded fourth at the May championship, Weinzheimer waited until her next-to-last attempt to win the javelin.

About a minute after she watched Cerritos College of Norwalk’s Angel Sifuentes rally into the lead with her heave of 139-11, Weinzheimer dug deep for her victory with an emphatic answer.

“I really wasn’t focused on (Sifuentes) or other athletes. In fact, I was cheering them all on. I was excited that a lot of them were stepping it up,” Weinzheimer said. “When I threw my fifth throw, which was my best mark, I knew I had it when I released it.

“I had so much adrenaline running through my body when I let it go. I threw a little fist pump as I was walking away from the runway. I never showboat. I always walk off with ease and respect, but I couldn’t hold back the joy.”

A perennial All-Western Athletic Conference third baseman in high school, Weinzheimer intended to play softball at Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz. But in 2010, halfway through her first semester, she decided that the team wasn’t what she had expected.

Some friends from Central Arizona’s track and field team convinced her to join them at practice and check things out, and then she was handed a javelin and asked to throw it. Her first attempt traveled more than 35 meters.

It didn’t take her long to catch on, and within months, she was proving herself one of the best javelin throwers in the country.

“I would have never imagined five years ago that I would be doing track today,” said Weinzheimer, who transferred to Modesto Junior College after two semesters in Arizona. “It’s been crazy, the ride that I’ve been taking.”

Weinzheimer, the daughter of Read and Clarin Weinzheimer of Patterson, said family continues to be a huge source of support and encouragement.

“My parents have been my biggest supporters these past few years: from my surgery to my transition from softball to track,” she said. “It was a rough time for my parents during my sickness. I believe they took all the stress and worry from me and placed it onto themselves. They never doubted me and are always supportive and have faith I will make the right decisions.”

Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or marc@pattersonirrigator.com.

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