Wrestling in Midlothian ISD Is Stronger Than Ever
A big part of sports is rivalries. And while that is true in the city of Midlothian, where they have two high schools, another thing the city and school district takes pride in is sportsmanship.
And nowhere is that more evident than the schools’ respective wrestling programs, who combined to send eleven competitors to this past weekend’s University Interscholastic League State Tournament. Of course, each competitor wanted to bring home a state title, but when they weren’t on the mat themselves, they were cheering on others from the school district, including those from the other school across town.
“Wrestling is a relatively small community within the greater DFW area. Most of these young men and women have been members of youth club wrestling teams, and so a lot of them have been familiar with each other for years,” Midlothian High coach Bryan Shivers said. “Sometimes they were teammates, sometimes they were rivals. That still pretty much continues through today.”
MHS had seven state qualifiers, five boys and two girls, and placed third as a team at the recent regional meet.
The state meet was highlighted by Midlothian sophomore Karson Tompkins bringing home a gold medal as the state champion in the Class 5A 182-pound division. Karson is the fifth consecutive Panther wrestler to bring home the State Championship.
Other Panther state competitors and their respective finishes at state, include:
Sophomore Eli Biermann, third place in the boys 132-pound division.
Freshman Eve Smith, fourth in girls 165 division.
Junior Maddie Hodges, fifth in girls 148 division.
Senior Leonardo Terron-Rivera, went 2-2 in boys 126 division.
Senior Henry Bumgarner, went 2-2 in boys 195 division.
Sophomore Nick Celli, competed in boys 145 division.
Bierman and Tompkins, both two-time regional champions, also placed at state in 2021. Bierman was fifth and Tompkins third.
Heritage, which made history by sending qualifiers to state for the first time in the program’s four-year history, had four competitors (three boys, one girl) this past weekend in Cypress. Their contingent was highlighted by a fourth-place finish by senior Noah Clayton in the boys 120 division, while senior Anthony Schmidt went 1-2 in the boys 145 division and senior Kayla Moore was 1-2 in the girls 128 division.
Junior Mario Aguero was an alternate in the boys 113 division but did not compete.
“This is a monumental thing that has sent shock waves through our program in the best way possible,” Heritage coach Collin Stroner said. “It has shown that we can compete at the highest levels possible. This team is on everyone’s radar now and I’m glad that my kid’s hard work can be showcased.”
Unity In Competition
While MHS and Heritage have not competed against each other in most other sports, with MHS being 5A and Heritage 4A (though that changed with the new UIL realignment in everything except football), wrestling was different because it only has two divisions (6A and 5A). So, the two programs have been in the same district at the 5A level for a few years now and have competed against each other in duals, tournaments, and at district and region every year for the past four years.
“I would say that by and large, both groups of kids have really been genuinely supportive of one another this year,” Midlothian assistant coach Robert Irwin said. “I have seen coach (Collin) Stroner (Heritage coach) give a word of encouragement to one of our wrestlers as they have come off the mat, and both coach Shivers and I have done the same with some of their kids.
“At the end of the day this is still a pretty small town, and these kids all grew up together. They attended the same primary schools and churches.”
For example, Clayton of Heritage was fighting for first place at the regional tournament recently (which he won), there were a lot of Panther wrestlers and parents cheering him on, a sign of the strong sense of community pride.
“The programs have a rivalry that is healthy, but we root for each other. The kids do pull for each other, and we have a dual at the start of the year, and wrestle different times throughout the year at tournaments,” Stroner said. “But we as coaches make sure it’s in the competitive spirit and root for our kids to do great.
“The Community is excited to see this level of success.”
Shivers added, “I think to the community at large this season’s success may feel like it is coming out of nowhere, but to those who have been a part of the Midlothian Wrestling Community, this season has been a long time coming.”
While Heritage made history, competing at state is nothing new for MHS. In 2019 they sent eight competitors and in 2020 the boys were state runners-up.
“The real key to the overall success this year is that now Midlothian Heritage is getting in on the action by sending their first contingent to state,” Irwin said. “The combined success of both programs puts this year at or very near the top in terms of district-wide success in wrestling.”
To which Stroner further emphasized, “MISD is here to make a statement and this district is a hotbed for great wrestlers and is going to continue to challenge the rest of the state.”