Before any Midlothian varsity or junior varsity wrestler stepped onto a mat Saturday in the Trojan Invitational hosted by Euless Trinity, they knew the field of competitors was stacked.
There was also a historic win for the Midlothian wrestling program on the horizon.
Outside of the Texas powerhouse squads, the tournament included reining Oklahoma champion, Plainview High, and Douglas High out of Colorado.
Yet, for much of the varsity meet, the Panthers clung to the top-team spot Saturday, Jan. 13. The Midlothian varsity squad eventually finished sixth in the 42-field team, often considered one of the toughest meets in the state.
A measly 15 points separated first and sixth place.
Under the direction of head coach Kevin Reed, the Panthers had three wrestlers place in the top-three of their respective classes and a couple more who just missed a top finish by a single match.
Allen Roppolo, a senior captain who is ranked 4th in his weight class in Texas, lost to the reigning Oklahoma champion in the finals. Roppolo finished second and earned his 100th career victory as a Panther. He is the first Midlothian wrestler to reach the 100-win plateau.
Jackson Carter, another Panther captain who is ranked No. 13 in Texas in his weight class, continued his strong season, finishing third.
Freshman Marshall Hodges also had an outstanding showing with his third-place finish.
The future of Midlothian Panther wrestling remains bright, as the junior varsity squad finished the meet with four members placing in the top-five of the tournament. Micah Muzio and Jon Hemphill each placed second, while Connor Black placed fourth.
Next up for the Panthers is the 2nd annual Cat Fight dual between Midlothian and Midlothian Heritage. The meet is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 18 at the Midlothian Arena.
The dual will field the varsity boys and girls, as well as the boys' junior varsity. New this year is the addition of the wrestling programs at Frank Seale and Walnut Grove Middle School.
Wrestling begins at 6 p.m.