EDITOR’S NOTE: After Leah Heckaman and Tanner Grant signed their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday, Feb. 5, they spoke with James Costello, sports editor of The Pilot-News, in Plymouth, Ind.
By James Costello
While most of the attention on Signing Day centered around football, two Culver Academies students signed National Letters of Intent in track and rowing Wednesday.
Plymouth native Leah Heckaman, a throwing specialist for the Lady Eagles track team, and Tanner Grant, a member of CMA’s rowing team from Fort Wayne, signed on with the University of Cincinnati and Oklahoma City University, respectively.
“I started throwing in middle school. It’s always been one of those long-term goals for me,” said Heckaman. “I wanted to be able to put myself in that situation where I’d be able to move on to the next level and throw and compete in Division I. Ultimately being able to achieve that goal for myself that I’ve been working toward so long, it’s hard to explain. It’s just surreal, and I’m very happy with how it turned out.”
“I’m stoked. It’s always been a dream of mine to row Division I, and getting the opportunity next year is going to be awesome,” said Grant.
Heckaman is a five-time state meet qualifier in her events. Last season she notched personal bests of 44’2.5” in the shot and 135’10” in discus and closed her junior year on the podium in Bloomington with a fifth-place finish in discus. She placed 10th in the state in the shot put. She’s also a two-time qualifier for the indoor New Balance Nationals and a one-time qualifier for the outdoor nationals.
Heckaman mulled over offers from Tulane, Cornell and Purdue before she made her final decision.
“Going into the whole college searching process, I was looking for a university that would be able to fulfill my needs both in academics and athletic pursuits. At the end of the day, I just felt that Cincinnati was the best fit for me both athletically and academically,” said Heckaman. “They have a great program in what I’m wanting to study, which is health science — I’m majoring in health science with a concentration in movement and exercise science. So that’s something that really tailored my interest, and they also have a really great women’s track and field program. The coaches are great, and the teammates are all really great, and it was just a lot of fun going to meet them and experiencing the entire atmosphere of the team.”
Grant is a three-year member of the CMA Boys Varsity 4+ team. He helped his teams to a record of 45-2 in the varsity four and 22-9 in the varsity eight as a junior. He won two state championships, a Midwestern championship and finished third in the Scholastic National Regatta last May. Grant was also a four-year letterman in soccer.
He will join former teammate Jackson Anderson, who is currently a junior on the Stars roster. Grant says having a former teammate on his new squad will be a bonus.
“Having a teammate from high school is always nice. You get to have someone that has been a part of the high school experience that you went to,” he said. “Having someone there that knows everything about your old school is a huge bonus. I can talk to him about some of the traditions and some of the things that I can’t relate to with other teammates. He’ll be sort of a role model, and I’m looking forward to training under him.”
Seeing the Olympic training facilities at OCU was love at first sight as well.
“I was at the school for a couple days, and I just fell in love with everything from the team to the coaches to the facilities,” Grant said. “When I was down there I got to visit Devon Boathouse, which is also the Olympic training center, so the facility there is top-notch, world class.”