Modesto JC's Sanders, Weinzheimer capture state crowns

ragostini@modbee.comMay 24, 2013 

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— Markus Sanders and Kianna Weinzheimer do not walk into a competition lightheartedly. For them, it's serious stuff.

Maybe that's why they're state champions today.

The California Community College Track & Field Championships was shaded in Modesto blue Friday. Sanders shook off a dislocated finger and won the hammer throw before high noon. About six hours later at College of San Mateo's scenic hillside venue, Weinzheimer waited until her next-to-last attempt to win the javelin.

It marked the first multiple winners for MJC at the State Meet since throwers of another era — Jill Wool in the hammer and Shelley Hill in the javelin — did it in 1998. Sanders and Weinzheimer also are Modesto's first state champions since Joe Turner in the 400 in 2006.

"I'm still not content. I have so much power that goes wasted," Weinzheimer critiqued.

"There's still so much left in me," Sanders admitted.

Their MJC eligibility may be expired after today's finale, but they're hardly satisfied.

Both Sanders, from Pitman High, and Weinzheimer, from Patterson, carried the momentum from last week's Northern California titles into State.

And both tossed in a little drama along the way.

Sanders approached his third hammer-throw attempt knowing two things soon would happen:

1. He would dislocate the index finger of his left hand.

2. He would not care about that.

"I was not going to let the pain stop me," he said. "I'm going to go in there and do what I do."

The third throw was the charm, all right — 191 feet, 8 inches (58.42 meters) — as his finger suddenly pointed off-center. It didn't matter that, minutes later, a trainer at CSM pulled the finger back into place while Sanders winced.

It was also moot that Sanders didn't improve over the remaining three-round finals. Neither did anyone else. He beat teammate and third-place finisher Tyler Lamott (182-1), the national JC leader, and another fellow Pirate, Austin Funk in sixth (168-11).

The Sanders-Lamott duel was interrupted by Saddleback runner-up Patrick Geers (182-5), the leader before the MJC star delivered.

The handle-hand is the final release-point in the hammer throw. Sanders tore the glove on that hand during his second attempt, and he knew what was ahead.

"When the glove rips, it catches on the handle," Sanders said. "I've dislocated it four times this season. ... If it's not popping out or getting stitches, I'm going ahead."

Sanders' hard work on the football field for MJC (2010-11) no doubt paid off. He relies more on pure power than technique in both the throws and football, so he played his trump card — he gutted it out.

"Markus had very few reps until he made a 20-foot improvement late last season. Now he's caught up with the reps," said throws coach Bob MacKay, the main reason for MJC's hammer-throw renaissance. "The kids saw his progress every week. If he ever gets the right positions, he could throw farther."

Lamott, from Chico, threw his nation-leading 194 feet about a month ago. More technically sound but not as strong as Sanders, Lamott saw his MJC colleague sweep by him in the final weeks.

Then again, Lamott managed only three fouls at State a year ago. Minus Sanders, progress was made.

"I got a little better than last year," he said. "He (Sanders) started hitting the big marks at the end. In this event, you know what you're doing one day, and you're trying to figure out what that thing is you're holding the next."

Weinzheimer, seeded fourth in the javelin, dug deep for her victory. About a minute after she watched Cerritos' Angel Sifuentes rally into the lead with her 139-11, Weinzheimer poured out a personal-best 142-11.

It was an emphatic answer, and the MJC sophomore allowed a small fist-pump as she walked off the runway.

"I don't usually pay attention to the other girls," she said. "I knew I wasn't winning, but I didn't want. I followed my own cue and played my own game."

Surgeons removed a walnut-sized tumor from Weinzheimer's brain a year ago. Her title completed her comeback.

"It feels like a stepping stone to where I want to be," she said. "I want to get lean and more quick and tighten it up and win at the NCAA level."

Before Weinzheimer's win, the MJC day was dominated by its six hammer throwers. NorCal champion Cara McClain placed second in the women's hammer behind two-time state champion Jessika Byrd of Riverside.

The 5-foot-4 120-pound McClain, a virtual dwarf in her specialty, reached 170 feet on her second try. By then, Byrd was building toward a field-crushing 195-10, a state-meet record.

"I was a little too excited for the meet. I was ranked third going in, so I'm happy with it," McClain said. "There's more for next year."

Katy Cederlind saved her best for last — a 162-6 for fourth. Tory Dickerson also closed with her best effort, 158-8, for sixth.

Tommy Wright followed his third at NorCal with a fourth in the state long jump. He leaped 23-5½.

Manuel Hernandez, a freshman from Oakdale, cleared 6-4 in the high jump (seventh place).

Sanders, third in the state in the discus last year, returns today as the NorCal champion. He'll join other NorCal champions Sarah Mayfield (800), Becky Hobby (1500) and Dickerson (shot put) as MJC wraps up a successful season.

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