Greenville senior overcomes health battle to reach college ranks

Sports

Jonah Lentz persevered through a serious case of Crohn's disease and has committed to Thiel's soccer program

HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) – Greenville senior defenseman Jonah Lentz loves the game of soccer.

“Playing soccer is kind of my favorite thing to do,” Jonah said. “I mean, there’s nothing better in the world than playing soccer.”

So much so that nothing could prevent him from playing the sport. In the summer of 2020, Jonah became very sick.

“It was some point in the summer that my stomach just starting hurting,” Jonah added. “Almost like a sharp, fiery pain. It just got worse and worse. I really didn’t tell anyone because I thought it would just go away.”

Jonah was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

After weeks of no improvement, Jonah had a PICC line inserted into his arm that administered nutrients directly into his bloodstream for 18 hours a day.

“The gap we tried to have when I was off, it was 3:00-9:00 or 4:00-10:00 so I could actually go to practice and play,” Jonah said. “That was my routine, to sleep with it and go to school with it and take it off for practice and stuff like that.”

“We would have to hook him up and unhook him up,” said Jonah’s mother, Michelle Lentz. “Our whole dining room table became more of a hospital triage medical room with all the medications and vials and different shots and everything we had to give him.”

Jonah was on an all liquid diet for six weeks and lost roughly 35 pounds.

“Even before I got the PICC line in, I just didn’t feel right,” Jonah said. “I’d do as much of two-a-days and pre-season stuff as I could, but some of it I just couldn’t do and I’d sit out. As far as playing soccer from a physical standpoint, I mean, I lost so much weight and I just wasn’t in the shape I needed to be in and I was super sore all the time. It was difficult.”

Jonah pushed through and finished out his senior soccer season, PICC line and all. His effort didn’t go unnoticed. In early April, Jonah committed to play Division III soccer at Thiel College.

“Just to see how quickly he was able to recover, how quickly he was able to come back from it. It’s just been very nice to see him comfortable and confident with his decision and excited to play at the next level,” Michelle said.

After undergoing surgery, Jonah is feeling great and is on a normal, solid food diet. The foods he is happiest to be back to eating?

“Pizza and cheesecake. Those were my two foods I was craving,” he said.

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