The Panthers of Midlothian High School came ready to rumble at the Berry Event Center in Cypress this past weekend. The two-day event officially kicked off the 2020 wrestling season. It was the first competition of the new year, and the boys from MHS did not disappoint.

Most of the 99 school teams consisted of Class 6A athletes, but Midlothian moved up its team rankings after a very successful debut. The Panthers are now comfortably sitting at the No. 8 position in the state wrestling rankings.

MHS was paced by heavyweight Marshall Hodges (285 lbs), who finished in first place; Kaleb Tompkins (220 lbs), who also finished first; and Jackson Carter, who took third place in the 145-pound division.

"It was a crazy tournament and there were a lot of teams," Tompkins said. "I’ve always believed that wrestling in general gives people confidence in their everyday lives, but winning first at the Cy-Fair tournament also gives me a lot of confidence going forward into our district and regional tournaments. I feel that seeing so many great wrestlers over the course of the weekend is helping me prepare to be at my best for myself and for my team. I’m really excited for what we have ahead of us."

Added Carter: "I feel like winning third at Cy-Fair was a big accomplishment for me individually but I’m equally as excited for our whole team. For our lineup to place eighth at such a large tournament, stacked with powerhouse 5A and 6A programs, it shows that we are improving individually and as a team. I think we are positioning ourselves to make a strong run at a team state title."

Cypress Ridge head coach Tim Ray said among the top five teams, all four University Interscholastic League regions were represented.

“The first tourney of the year is always so much fun," Ray said. "The team battles this year were incredible. (Class) 5A was very well-represented with Midlothian and A&M Consolidated both breaking into the top 10.”

According to Wrestling Texas on Twitter, “After the dust had settled, 99 teams had wrestlers compete on 16 mats in the 18th annual event. On the 5A scene, Midlothian High School and A&M Consolidated are looking like legitimate threats at a team title when they hopefully return to the Berry Center in February. At this first competition, they finished 8th and 9th respectively, and were only separated by 2 points (130 – 128)”.

To continue quoting Wrestling Texas, “It was the 5A classification outshining everyone at 220. Kaleb Tompkins of Midlothian was 1st, Jason Lund of Azle was 2nd and Sam Montoya of A&M Consolidated in 3rd. This final was another nail-biter, with Kaleb Tompkins eking-out the 1 point victory in the first tie-breaker period!

“Also, the winner was Midlothian at 285. This time the champion was Marshall Hodges who got the 1 point victory over Katy Taylor’s Curshawn Wilkins in a ‘sudden death’ victory.”

MHS head coach Kevin Reed said the Cy-Fair ISD wrestling tournament is the largest high school tourney in the nation, with some of the best wrestlers "pound-for-pound" in the State of Texas in attendance.

"I really wanted our kids to be tested against the best to see where they are," Reed said, "and if they went out there and competed hard, then it would give them an idea of where they are — and hopefully motivate them to make a return trip to the Berry Center for the UIL State Championships in February.”

Reed added that he thought the Panthers did a great job of showing people that Midlothian can wrestle with anyone, anytime, anywhere.

"I am so proud of our total team effort," he said. "One hundred teams with 70-man brackets is very difficult with such a large group being 6A powerhouse schools. I was hoping for at least a ‘top 20’ finish, but we landed in eighth place instead, as one of only two 5A schools to crack the top 10. The entire team performed well, and we look to build on this outstanding performance in order to try and accomplish our goals in February.”

Hodges, the MHS heavyweight winner, said his goal this year is to make it back to the state tournament, and he feels that winning this tournament proves he's on the right track to achieve his goals.

"This was a great experience with a lot of high-level competition," Hodges said. "I’m excited for the opportunity I have ahead of me and I’m equally excited that our whole team wrestled so well. This is going to be a big year for Midlothian wrestling."