Being with friends always has been the best part of playing sports for Grant Heilman, so naturally he wanted to make the most of his senior year at Bexley High School.

The 2018 graduate earned letters in four sports as a senior, including competing in two -- boys lacrosse and track and field -- in the spring.

Despite the extracurricular workload, Heilman graduated with a 4.4 GPA and will study business at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania beginning this fall.

"I just love the social aspects of playing sports; it's about the friendships you make and the bonds you build," Heilman said. "In each of these sports, you have a different group of friends. It's nice to be able to associate with different people. I have friends that I would have never known without playing basketball, lacrosse or soccer or running track."

Heilman played four years of basketball and soccer with the Lions, but spring was reserved for club soccer until his junior year. That's when Heilman decided he missed lacrosse, which he gave up when he entered high school.

"I played lacrosse from the time I was in the second grade to the eighth, and I really missed playing with the friends that I grew up with," Heilman said. "As a junior, I was able to run track and play club lacrosse because spring soccer is mostly just preparing for the summer and I was able to miss some (soccer) workouts. Since I was able to juggle both of those, I thought I would try to do both (lacrosse and track) this year (at Bexley)."

Heilman drew up a calendar for the spring sports season that included practices for both sports as well as lacrosse games and track meets. He presented his plan to both boys track coach Shane Roberts and boys lacrosse coach Stony Burks.

"There are only a select few people who can do something like that," Roberts said. "It was pretty amazing to watch Grant run his butt off in practice or a meet and then go to lacrosse practice and work hard there. He doesn't know how to do anything but to work hard."

Heilman earned eight letters at Bexley: three in soccer, two each in basketball and track and one in lacrosse.

This spring, the boys track team qualified for the Division II regional meet in a pair of running events, and Heilman was a part of both. He placed 16th in the 400 meters (56.17 seconds) and helped the 3,200 relay finish eighth (8:09.9).

"It's nice to be able to have those (multi-sport) athletes because Bexley is too small to have kids specializing," Roberts said. "It shows how hard he worked by making it to regional. I don't think our (3,200) relay would have gone as far without Grant. We wish he would have come out a couple years earlier."

Heilman pulled double duty on one spring evening. On May 4, he ran on the first-place 3,200 relay (8:30.52) in the Columbus East Tigers Invitational and then left to play in a home lacrosse game against Granville. The Lions lost 19-4, but Heilman had one goal and one assist.

"For the most part, the lacrosse games and track meets were on different nights," said Heilman, whose lacrosse team finished 2-13. "There were several (track) practices that I ran a 400 and an 800 and then went to (lacrosse) practice. I would do full workouts. I wouldn't sit out of anything."

Heilman liked the challenge of playing multiple sports and keeping up with his schoolwork. He said many times he would be exhausted after a long day of school, track practice at 4 p.m. and lacrosse practice at 7 p.m. Sometimes he wouldn't return home until 9:30 p.m., but would wake up at 5 a.m. to start studying.

Heilman helped the soccer team go 11-3-3 last fall. In the winter, the basketball team went 17-6.

What sport did he like best?

"That's a tough question because it's normally the sport that was in season," he said. "I played soccer the longest, but every sport has something specific I like about it. I have a lot of friends in all of them, so that's good.

"I won't be playing (varsity) sports at Penn, but maybe I'll get into a club sport. I might try rugby. It's something I'm interested in. (It's) something new and is a combination of a lot of sports I have done other than football. I like to challenge myself."

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen