When Trevor Hohlt tore ligaments surrounding his right knee during football season, everyone thought he was done with sports for the rest of the school year.
But the Center Grove High School junior has shed his wheelchair and is eyeing a return to running track this spring.
He is determined to be back to 100 percent in time to help the Trojans defend their Class 6A state football title when practice starts Aug. 1.
Each day Hohlt gets a little bit closer.
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“I was cleared to start running about three weeks ago and just started practicing two weeks ago,” Hohlt said. “I’m still not able to make cuts, but I’m going to take it slow so that I’m not back to Square One again.
“I still have my senior year of football and have my senior year of track, too.”
Hohlt doesn’t want to revisit Square One. Ever.
On Oct. 30, Hohlt, a left wingback, sustained a devastating knee injury during the Trojans’ 56-6 sectional romp against visiting Jeffersonville.Called on to carry the football with the Trojans deep in Red Devils’ territory, Hohlt planted his right foot in an effort to cut back to the left. Hohlt had made this move hundreds of times before dating back to Bantam League competition. This 5-yard gain would be different.Immediately he knew something was wrong.
Hohlt finished the season with 351 rushing yards and a touchdown, but was proven to be one of Center Grove’s most-valued receivers.
He had already dislocated his right knee cap in a 44-26 victory at Lawrence Central in Week 6, but the injury didn’t require surgery. Nonetheless, it sidelined Hohlt for four games before the comeback against Jeffersonville.
“The night that it happened I knew he wasn’t going to come back for the rest of the season,” said Hohlt’s father, Aaron. “The other hard part is that group of junior and senior players have been so close for so long.
“Trevor was still part of it, but there was an emptiness. And the pain he was in. As a parent it was tough to watch.”
For Trevor Hohlt, it was the beginning a five-month odyssey of excruciating pain, questions about the future, depression, anger, weight loss, hope, healing, added weight and renewed confidence.
The road back
Doctors discovered that Hohlt, who wore a brace to stabilize the leg in the days leading up to the Nov. 17 knee surgery, had cartilage ripped off his femur and would require two screws and a cartilage graft in his right knee.From that point he would use wheelchair for approximately a month before moving to crutches. Meanwhile, the Trojans continued to flourish on the field.Center Grove won at Warren Central in a Class 6A regional, then edged Avon in a double-overtime thriller to win semistate and qualify for what was the program’s third appearance in a state championship football game.
The Class 6A title game against Penn would be the night of Nov. 28 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Two days earlier, Hohlt was at his lowest – physically as well as emotionally.
Hohlt, who carried 178 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame during the football season, watched his weight plummet to 156 pounds. His prescription pain medication had taken away much of his appetite.
“Thanksgiving Day was probably the lowest. He had lost 22 pounds. He had no appetite. That was the climax of the whole ordeal. Trevor was just wilting, but the community, coaches, parents, family, friends and obviously his teammates have been incredible,” Aaron Hohlt said.
“And Trevor, not that he needed to, did a lot of growing up.”
On the right track
In early January, he was cleared to walk without crutches, but the inactivity before that had robbed Hohlt of much of the muscle mass in his right thigh. He’s been able to get back to near 180 pounds through strength training (mostly upper body), getting his appetite back and encouragement from those closest to him.“I’ve honestly trusted my coaches, and my friends have been there for me. (Assistant) Coach (Brad) Timmons has been great to me, and (junior sprinter) Titus (McCoy) has always supported me when I’m down,” said Trevor, the second of five football-playing Hohlt brothers in Center Grove.“My family has been great. There are days you don’t even want to get up, and they’re always there to push me.”
The Hohlts were told five to six months would be required for Trevor to be at or near full-strength again. On May 10, one week short of six months since Hohlt underwent knee surgery, Noblesville High School will host its annual track relays.
And Hohlt is planning to to compete.
As a sophomore, he led Center Grove’s 1,600-meter relay team that placed third at the IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals in 3:17.44. Individually, he won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles at the Columbus North Sectional, then took fourth at the Connersville Regional to barely fall short of qualifying for state.
This season it’s about competing again.
Eric Moore, Center Grove’s head football coach and boys track coach, knows if anyone can make it back this season against what seems like long odds, it’s Hohlt.
“Trevor is such a strong, competitive kid that we just need to be around because he’s such a good leader. Even as a sophomore last year he didn’t cheat one rep of anything,” Moore said.
“A lot of times if a kid is injured you don’t see them. Trevor is out there picking up hurdles and putting down cones during practice. He’s like another coach.”
THE HOHLT FILE
Name: Trevor Hohlt
Family: Parents, Aaron and Jennifer; brothers, Jackson, 18, Sam, 15, Ty, 13, Eli, 11
Favorite TV show: “The Blacklist”
Favorite food: Pancakes
Favorite movie: “Warrior”
Favorite athlete: Odell Beckham, Jr.
Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts