Wanting to attend West Point is one thing.
Getting in is quite another.
No one knows that better than Jackson Hohlt.
He not only went through the intense process, which involves everything from letters of recommendation to physical assessments to congressional nominations, but he did so successfully.
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As a reward, he’ll continue his track and field career at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York.
A Center Grove senior, Hohlt received his appointment in December. The occasion marked the end of an exhausting months-long process which offered no guarantees of admittance.
But in the end, Hohlt — an honors student who also was a standout on Center Grove’s state championship football team — had the right stuff.
“I’ve kind of always liked the military and that kind of lifestyle, so I started looking into West Point and found out that I fit in there. That’s why I chose to go there,” said Hohlt, who is the second Center Grove athlete in recent years admitted to West Point. The other is Alex Aukerman, who recently completed his sophomore season on Army’s football team.
Hohlt and Aukerman are friends. They remained in contact while Hohlt, whose grandfather served in the U.S. Navy, went through the arduous and lengthy admissions steps — a months-long process involved writing essays, interviews with congressmen and obtaining a congressman’s recommendation.
“There are many hoops to jump through,” said Hohlt, who first had to contact his local congressmen for letters of recommendation just to apply. He eventually received his West Point nomination from U.S. Representative Todd Young, which then set in motion the formal application procedure.
That process involved more essays, more letters of recommendation, a candidate fitness assessment and a Department of Defense medical exam.
Hohlt, who maintains a 4.1 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale, passed on all fronts. None of which surprised his high school football and track head coach, Eric Moore.
“He does a phenomenal job as an athlete. His body’s his temple,” Moore said. “He takes care of himself like no one else. He’s very mature for his age, so he has great self-discipline. He has great study habits.
“That’s what really convinced Army that they wanted him, because he does all these extra curricular activities and still studies for three hours and gets his grades.”
Hohlt’s initial goal was to attend West Point as a cadet. But in August, Army’s track and field coaches — keenly aware of Hohlt’s standout performance at last year’s IHSAA State Meet — contacted him about running for the Black Knights and stayed in touch throughout the process.
By the time it ended, Hohlt was accepted as a student and an athlete.
Again, Moore wasn’t surprised.
Hohlt rushed for 1,029 yards and 11 touchdowns for the football team, runs middle distances and relays for the track team and is known for his selflessness on both teams, willing to plug in wherever needed.
For example, he switched from cornerback to running back in football because it filled a need. In track, he runs where the Trojans need him to run, although his specialty is the 400 sprint.
He placed seventh in that event at last year’s state meet, helping the Trojans to a fourth-place team finish.
“He was an easy pick for the military because, like in football, he does all the dirty work,” Moore said. “He blocks, he decoys and takes the ball in certain situations where he knows he’s going to get pounded. In track, he runs four events. He may run a 200, two 400s and another relay.
“He’s as professional of a kid as I’ve ever coached. Never complains, no excuses.”
Although he looks forward to West Point, Hohlt has unfinished business with the Trojans.
Winding down a special senior year that already includes an undefeated state football championship, Hohlt’s objective is to earn another individual medal at the state track meet and, more importantly, help the Trojans in their bid for a team title.
Hohlt, along with defending state discus champion Cameron Tidd, is among a wealth of returners from last year’s fourth-place team.
“It’s been a great school year. I just want to finish it out right. That’s the little theme I’ve kind of had,” said Hohlt, who reports to West Point June 27. “(In) football, we finished it out right, got our final win. Now we’re kind of focusing to do the same in track. That’s basically what the rest of the year is about right now, finishing it out right.
“My main goal is to just make it back to state and do well as a team this year, and try to go as far as we can as a group.”
Name: Jackson Hohlt
High school: Center Grove
Sports: Football, track and field
College plans: Will continue track career at U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York
Grade point average: 4.1 on 4.0 scale
Favorite TV show: “Criminal Minds”
Favorite movie: “Lone Survivor”
Favorite book: The Bible
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts
Favorite football player: LaDainian Tomlinson
Family: Parents are Aaron and Jennifer Hohlt. Has four younger brothers, Trevor, Sam, Ty and Eli.