By Bill Spinks

In a school year cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, the University Interscholastic League announced on Thursday that it will not award winners of the Lone Star Cup for the first time since the competition began in the 1997-98 school year.

The Ellis County school affected by this the most is Midlothian High School, which is ranked No. 9 in the state in Class 5A with 40 points.

"Panthers should be super proud of this," MHS principal Gary Gates said on social media. "Highest ranking ever (so I am told) and we still had the spring to go (they would have crushed it). Thank you to the @MISD_Athletics @MidloRegiment @_midlodrama coaches and students who made this happen!"

Since its launch, the Lone Star Cup has measured high schools’ cumulative success in athletics, academics and other extracurricular activities. The competition awards points based on district titles and playoff success in all UIL-sanctioned sports as well as various academic and extracurricular activities.

But all such competitions were suspended on March 13 and canceled outright in April because of the pandemic. Many activities that would have earned points toward the Lone Star Cup did not complete their seasons and thus did not tally points in the competition, including boys’ basketball with state tournament results, robotics FIRST, soccer, academics, one-act play, golf, tennis, track and field, softball and baseball.

Completed events did include team tennis, cross-country, marching band, volleyball, robotics BEST, football, Congress, spirit, swimming and diving, wrestling, mariachi, film, girls’ basketball, boys’ basketball through the regional tournaments and theatrical design.

In athletics, the Panthers scored many of their points in wrestling, where Jackson Carter and Felix Saunders each won gold medals and Marshall Hodges won a silver, helping MHS finish second as a team in 5A boys; and in girls’ basketball, where the Lady Panthers made a Cinderella run to the region finals.

The only other Ellis County high school to rank in the Lone Star Cup standings is also in Midlothian ISD, as Heritage High School is tied for 22nd place in Class 4A with 28 points. With spring events yet to be counted, the Jaguars would’ve likely climbed the rankings rapidly as well.

North Texas schools dominate the top spots in the final Lone Star Cup rankings: Southlake Carroll (6A), Highland Park (5A), Argyle (4A) and Brock (3A).

Gruver, at the very top of the Texas Panhandle, tops 2A, and Blum and Cumby Miller Grove are tied for the top in 1A.