Eighteen months ago, Trevor Hohlt was seated in a wheelchair observing what would have been the biggest game of his life.
Determined to make a triumphant return, the Center Grove senior made good on his quest — twice.
In November, Hohlt led the Trojans’ football program back to the Class 6A state championship game. A hurdler and sprint relay specialist in track, he’s again flourishing after missing the entire 2016 season.
“One word would be ‘unfulfilled,’” Hohlt’s father, Aaron, said when asked to describe his son’s prep career. “Just dumb luck with injuries kept him from participating the entire time. A lot has been left on the table, but he’s learned so many things through these four years.
“Trevor always competes with a chip on his shoulder, but it’s like a boulder right now. He wants to finish this track season strong and feels he still has a lot to prove to a lot of people.”
After getting through his freshman and sophomore years as a football and track participant in relatively good health, Hohlt sustained two injuries that prevented him from reaching his full potential as an upperclassman.
Running in for what looked like a surefire short touchdown run in a 56-6 sectional blowout of Jeffersonville in October 2015, Hohlt cut left the way he had hundreds of times dating back to his days as a Junior Trojans running back.
This time, Hohlt’s body turned; his right knee didn’t.
Lying on the field for a prolonged period of time, Hohlt wished for the best and was handed the worst — torn femoral patella ligaments surrounding the knee meant sitting out the remainder of the season and facing a lengthy recovery period.
Hohlt underwent surgery on Nov. 17, less than two weeks before the kickoff of Center Grove’s third appearance in a state championship football game. When the Trojans defeated Penn 28-16, the junior was rooting on teammates he had known most his life from a wheelchair along the sideline.
He was determined to lead Center Grove back to Lucas Oil Stadium in 2016, and he did. But with approximately eight minutes left in the second quarter against Carmel in the Class 6A final, Hohlt, a fearless blocker whose value extends well beyond statistics, was removed from the game due to a suspected concussion.
With Hohlt on the sideline, the Trojans’ offensive mojo was gone. Their 10-0 lead gradually vanished, and they lost to their bitter Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rival in overtime 16-13.
“That was heartbreaking. That was the game I wanted to get back to,” Hohlt said. “But it’s honestly made me more mature and more patient. If life hands me a situation, it helps me stay more patient and to see the bigger picture.”
Forced to miss his entire track season last spring while recovering from knee surgery, Hohlt, who figures his right leg is “about 90 or 95 percent” healed, is making up for lost time in that sport as well.
At the recent Johnson County meet at Franklin, he won his specialty, the 300-meter intermediate hurdles, in a time of 39.63 seconds. Hohlt also took part in the Trojans’ first-place 400- and 1,600-meter relay efforts.
As a 10th-grader, Hohlt was part of Center Grove’s third-place 1,600 relay at the State Finals at Indiana University. That same spring, he took seventh in the 110 high hurdles and fourth in the 300s at the Connersville Regional.
The goal now is to not only get back into as many events as possible for the June 2 state meet, but to bring as many teammates as possible.
“Trevor is Mr. Team. That’s probably the part I’m proudest of,” said Eric Moore, who coaches Hohlt in both football and track and field. “He’s as solid of a teammate as anyone I’ve ever seen in high school athletics.
“His attitude has been the difference, and he’s always had the heart of a lion. Trevor not only comes back, he comes back and competes.”
Hohlt’s dream of playing Division I football remains intact, as he’s been offered a spot as a preferred walk-on this summer at Ball State University.
Utilized often as a slot receiver in Center Grove’s run-oriented wing-T offense, Hohlt demonstrated an ability to use his speed to get behind the defensive secondary and make the catch.
A hard-nosed 5-foot-11, 175-pounder, Hohlt could be made into a defensive back, special teams ace or running back by the time his career in Muncie is over.
Moore knows he’ll fit somewhere.
“I would hate to be on scholarship at Ball State, because Trevor is going to take someone’s money,” Moore said.
Through all of the adversity, Hohlt has emerged a more mature human being.
He’s seen first-hand that life isn’t always fair, and that a person has a choice whether to adopt a positive or negative mindset when things go poorly.
“I would probably compare it to a roller coaster. A lot of high points. A lot of low points,” Hohlt said. “I’m just trying to take the positives that have come out of it. It took a lot of time to recover. Now I feel like I’m making the turn.”
A season-by-season look at Trevor Hohlt’s statistics as a Center Grove football player: