With each opponent a Midlothian wrestler put onto the mat Friday, the program grew ever so slightly on the state's map.
They then continued to dominate Saturday afternoon in the 5A Region II wrestling tournament held at Frisco Wakeland High School, ultimately qualifying eight wrestlers for the 5A state championships and securing the first-ever regional championship in program history.
The Panthers first won the District 6-5A championship two weekends ago. They followed with an even more impressive and program-first 5A Region II championship over the weekend, racking up 175.5 points and 18 total pins.
Frisco Centennial placed second with 150.0 points and Argyle was fourth with 144.5.
Marshall Hodges, Felix Saunders and Brandon Bostwick each won their 285-pound, 113-pound and 160-pound classes, respectively. Jeremiah Boldon (120-pound) and Jackson Carter (138-pound) both placed second, while Kaleb Tompkins finished third in the 220-pound class.
Santino Saunders rounded out the Panthers state qualifiers with a fourth-place finish in the 106-pound class and Jetta Pearl secured the lone girls' state spot for Midlothian after she placed fourth in the 102-pound class.
Midlothian wrestlers Tylor Knighton, Ivan Montoya, Carson Weiss, Gavin Fisher, Micah Muzio, Conner Black and Henry Bumgarner also advanced to the regional tournament but did not qualify for the state championships.
"All of these accolades and accomplishments are just the culmination of the kids having a great year," Midlothian head wrestling coach Kevin Reed said. "They have just wanted to get some respect and I feel like they have had a chip on their shoulder. They wanted to be recognized as a great program and they are now — they've won a championship. To be a great program, you have to win championships first and they have done that."
He added, "This is all a testament of all of the hard work they have done."
The efforts also resulted in Reed, the third-year head wrestling coach, receiving 5A Region II coach of the year honors.
Reed is in his fourth year at Midlothian High School. He spent the first year as an assistant coach on the wrestling and football staffs and then transitioned into the role as the head wrestling coach at the urging of head football coach and campus athletic coordinator, Doug Wendel.
This year was his first to focus solely on wrestling and not have daily football duties.
Reed previously spent one year at South Grand Prairie as a teacher outside of athletics and originally moved from Oklahoma to Texas in 2014.
He is as humble a coach as they come and was quick to pass the praises associated with the Panthers success over the weekend to the student-athletes.
"Saturday was a pretty big day for the kids," Reed said. "I'll be the first one to tell you that I didn't think that we would get to where we are this fast. The kids have done a good job of listening, the accountability has been there and their work ethic has been there. At the end of the day, you have to have really good kids to win championships. Saturday was a culmination of what we started three years ago trying to change the program."
As the Panthers prepare to descend on The Berry Center this weekend in Houston, Reed admitted that it would be "pretty difficult to pull off" winning a state boys' team title. But with seven Panthers in the mix, the Panthers certainly have a shot. The boys hit the mats at 9 a.m. Friday while Pearl and the girls begin at 11:30 a.m. later that day.
They all hope to be competing at 4:45 p.m. Saturday in the 5A championship matches.
"I wouldn't count us out because we have kind of been counted out all year. We just keep going out there and raising our level of expectations and try not to worry about the bracket," Reed said. "We feel like we can wrestle with anyone. As far as a state championship, that will take care of itself if all seven go out there an compete and continue doing what they have done all year."