WHEELING — At Linsly Friday morning, a pair of student-athletes with very different stories signed to continue their academic and athletic careers at the next level.
One was basketball standout Carleigh Grimm. The 6-foot post player knew all throughout high school that she wanted to play in college and is traveling many miles away to make that dream come true. The other, cross country runner Haley Heitz, just realized in the past year that she has the potential to run in college and is staying much closer to home.
Grimm is a four-year standout on the girls basketball team and signed to play at Division II Flager College in St. Augustine, Florida. Grimm said she has been thinking about playing in college throughout her entire high school career.
“When I first started back in the sixth grade, I had no thoughts about going on to the next level,” Grimm said. “In eighth grade I started to see some improvements and thought, ‘maybe I can do something about this’. In high school over the last four years, I just thought that this is something I’m really passionate about and would really like to consider going into in college.”
Grimm is averaging 13.3 points and 12.6 rebounds per game for the Cadets this season and has averaged 11.5 points and 12.1 rebounds per game for her entire career.
“There are not enough words for what Carleigh has meant to our program for the last four years. She’s been a starter since she was a freshman,” said Linsly coach Rebecca Upton. “She’s certainly one of the best post players in the area…tnd this year, one of the best players (overall) in the area. She can do it all, she can shoot, she can attack, she has post moves, she can rebound, she can defend. There’s a lot of upside to Miss Carleigh Grimm.”
Grimm said her visit to Flagler over the summer made moving more than 800 miles away from Wheeling seem not so bad.
“Whenever I visited there back in the summer, I felt very welcomed as if it was my own family,” Grimm said. “After having great conversations with Coach Mo (Stevens) and Coach (Sydney) Cleveland, they just made me feel like it was a family environment, which is what I wanted.”
To make things even better, an actual member of her family will not be too far away.
“My brother (Cole Grimm) is currently at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona, so he’s only about 45 minutes away from me,” Grimm said. “That will make it a lot easier on me.”
While Grimm has been thinking about playing sports in college for years, Heitz said she only started to consider the possibility recently.
“I really never thought I’d be running in college,” Heitz admitted. “It was never a thought until last year and into this year.
“I just realized, as I improved each year, that I could run in college. Once I took a look at (college runners’) times, I realized I fit right in with college times.”
Heitz will be headed to Ashland University in Ohio next year after she helped the Linsly cross country team to an OVCCL Championship and OVAC Runner-Up in the fall. She individually had first place finishes at the Martins Ferry Invitational and the Cameron Wet and Wild Invitational.
“Haley has an unmatched work ethic,” said Linsly coach Chrissy D’Aquila. “She sets her goals high and is not afraid to put in the work to obtain them. I have no doubt that she will be successful at the next level.”
Heitz said Ashland is right for her because of how she felt when she visited and its relative closeness to home.
“When I visited, the feeling I got was just a really good feeling,” Heitz said. “I really like the coach and the campus. I didn’t want to go too far (from home) but I didn’t want to be too close. It’s 2 and a half hours from my house so it’s a really good distance.”
To help her further prepare to run in college, Heitz said she is joining the track team this spring for the first time since middle school. Usually a softball player, Heitz said she is going to try running the mile, two mile and 800-meter events.