Cody Pollitt of the Olentangy High School wrestling team had high hopes of qualifying for the Division I state tournament last season after posting a 29-12 record at 138 pounds during the regular season.
He reluctantly agreed to cut weight and compete at 132 in the sectional at Pickerington Central to allow teammate Ryan Dean to wrestle at 138.
Then, when Pollitt weighed in at 133 the day of the sectional, former Braves coach Matt Hammons told the officials running the tournament that Pollitt had been certified during the regular season to wrestle at 132 and, thus, should be allowed to compete in the weight class in the postseason even if he was one or two pounds over the weight class.
After a vote that was taken by the participating coaches in the sectional ruled in Pollitt's favor, he went 3-1 in the weight class and placed third to qualify for district. But two days before district, his season suddenly was over, as he was ruled ineligible because Hammons was unable to produce a valid document showing that he had been certified earlier in the season to wrestle at 132.
"My life is consumed by wrestling and it hit me really hard when I lost my chance to wrestle at district because I had worked so hard for it all year," Pollitt said. "Some people think that I was trying to cheat, but that wasn't my intention at all. I was very settled at 138 pounds, but (I felt) pressured to go down (a weight class) and I didn't quite make it to 132. My coach told me that he had a document and that it still would be OK for me to wrestle, and then two days before district, I was informed that I couldn't wrestle at district."
Pollitt was so distraught over the ruling that he briefly considered not returning this season. Ultimately, though, he decided to train even harder during the offseason and is putting together a successful junior season.
"I'm still bitter over how my sophomore season ended, but I'm using that feeling to motivate myself," he said. "It's put a fire under me and I'm wrestling with a big chip on my shoulder this year. I'm not getting any respect (in the area coaches poll and state rankings) because I didn't get to wrestle at district and so I have a point to prove this season."
Pollitt has been competing at 145 and 152 this season and was 20-4 before Jan. 18. He went 5-0 to place first in the Olentangy Invitational on Dec. 1, went 4-0 to finish first in the Orange Meatgrinder Invitational on Jan. 5 and went 4-2 and placed fourth in the North Canton Hoover Invitational held Dec. 14 and 15.
"Cody's wrestled a long time and he's got a lot of mat experience," first-year coach Dennis Lyberger said. "He's a very good rider and he's improving all the time on his feet.
"I think he'll be right in the mix to qualify for district and state, and I think he's good enough to be a state placer if everything clicks and he wrestles well."
Pollitt is attempting to follow in the footsteps of his uncle, Alexander Garcia, who won a Division III state title at 130 in 1993.
"I definitely want to place at state this year, and my biggest goal is to walk out of Olentangy as a state champion next year," he said.
Jamie Pollitt-Gore isn't surprised to see her son overcoming adversity, considering that he's been doing so since the day he was born.
Born six weeks premature, Pollitt had a birth defect called gastroschisis, a type of hernia in which the intestines protrude from the body through a hole in the abdominal wall. He underwent multiple surgeries within the first six weeks of his life to reconstruct his bowels and underwent further surgeries as a youth to repair hernias on both sides of his abdomen.
"I look at Cody as a survivor because he's always had the ability to fight through difficult situations," Pollitt-Gore said. "When I watch him wrestle, it reminds me of the little baby that I wasn't able to hold for two weeks while he was fighting to choose life over death. For me, Cody is a miracle because he fought through all of those medical setbacks the same way he's fighting back from the way his season ended last year. No matter what comes his way in life, Cody is always ready to fight through the hard times and do his best."