MMA Helps 3-Sporter Shine at BCC

May 3, 2019

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

BROOKLYN – When Khol Partridge gets some time away from the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond, he knows exactly where he’s going – to relax with some Mixed Martial Arts.

Partridge is winding down his days as a three-sport athlete at Brooklyn Columbia Central, a Class B school in southeast Michigan’s Irish Hills area. His father Rodney owns Pure Combat, a gym in Cement City that challenges Khol as an athlete, both mentally and physically, in a different way than high school sports do. But, combined, Khol said, it’s made him a stronger athlete and more of a leader.

“In the summertime, I’m in the gym every day,” Partridge said. “It makes you such a better athlete. It improves your attitude, your mindset, your balance, everything about being an athlete.”

Partridge mainly does the Jiu Jitsu form of MMA, not the type that puts him into a ring with another striker, or fighter. But, it’s still intense.

“My dad puts me through all kinds of crazy workouts,” he said. “You get yourself into tough spots in MMA and it makes you have to find a way out of it. That’s one way it helps you in other sports.”

Partridge has been in more than a few tight spots for the Golden Eagles over the last few seasons but has usually found a way to success. The CC football team has gone 23-9 over the last three seasons, making three consecutive playoff appearances. He led the Lenawee County Athletic Association this past season by completing 154-of-257 passes for 2,317 yards and 26 touchdowns. He threw just four interceptions all season. He also ran for 511 yards and nine touchdowns.

CC football coach Josh Kubiak called Partridge an “amazing athlete” and “amazing individual.”

“I could go on about Khol for a long time and tell you about all his stats and achievements,” Kubiak wrote in an e-mail. “In my opinion the best quality Khol has is his leadership skills. I remember back to when he was a freshman on our playoff team. He was the last player on the field after our loss hugging seniors and then came up to me and said, ‘We will be back.’”

The Golden Eagles won their first league football title since 1982 with Partridge at quarterback this past season. He finished with 4,800 career passing yards and a number of CC football records.

“He has the special talent to get other student athletes to follow him, and he gets the best out of them,” Kubiak said. “He always finds the positive out of the worst situations.”

It’s no surprise that Partridge chose the quarterback position – or, rather, it chose him.

“I was a quarterback since I was really little. I don’t know, maybe it was just because I wanted to be a leader. I’ve always had that mindset. I wanted to be the smartest player on the field, to know what everyone else was doing. My dad always taught me to be a leader, to be the best leader I could be.

“My biggest goal has always been just to be a leader. Leadership is a full-time job. You just have to step up at important times, to be an inspiration to others in the huddle or know when to get after someone and when to just give them a high-five and say, ‘It’s all right. Keep your head up.’”

Partridge got a few looks from colleges and was close to trying to walk on at a Division I school out west. Ultimately, he decided to stay a little closer to home and committed to Ohio’s University of Findlay, a perennial football powerhouse in Division II.

“I got a lot of looks, but nothing seemed to pan out. Then, the Findlay coach hit me up on Twitter,” Partridge said. “They contacted me, so saw tape and I went to visit. They have a great campus. I even did some research, and I know there is a Mixed Martial Arts gym not far from campus.”

In basketball, Partridge was the team’s top scorer in 2018-19, made 48 3-pointers and finished his career with more than 750 points over parts of four seasons. In baseball, he’s one of the team leaders in hitting and is enjoying another season of success.

“I fell in love with football early on in life,” he said. “I always played baseball, too. Me and my buddy, Chase Tompkins, we’ve always played baseball together. I didn’t start playing basketball until later, probably seventh grade.

“If it’s football season, then football is my favorite sport. If it’s baseball season, then baseball is my favorite sport.”

In baseball, Partridge is a middle infielder. When Tompkins pitches, Partridge plays shortstop; otherwise he plays second base.

“We are a really good double-play combination,” he said. “I think last year we turned like 20 double plays together. It’s crazy. We’ve played together a long time. We’ve kind of always been that duo.”

This season, Partridge’s goal is to hit .500.

“The season is going great,” he said. “I’m hitting fairly well, not as well as I want to be hitting, but I’m working hard. Baseball is so mental. You have to be mentally right to play the game.”

Partridge is quick to credit his parents, Rodney and Terri, for his success.

“My dad has been the biggest influence in my life,” he said. “He’s always been someone to look up to. And my mom is the best ever. She keeps my head in line. I’m so blessed to have two parents I can look up to.”

Khol Partridge is excited for the next chapter in life, although he still has some work to do this spring with the CC baseball team. He’s entertaining the idea of trying to walk-on with the Findlay baseball team.

“I definitely think I can,” he said. “Sports are a big part of my life. They always have been. Sports teaches you so much about different aspects in life.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Columbia Central’s Khol Partridge unleashes a pass this past fall. (Middle) Partridge, far right, with father Rodney (far left) and renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor Marcelo Garcia. (Photos courtesy of the Partridge family.) 

No Runs, No Hits: East Jordan Aces Toss 4 Straight Shutouts, 3 Straight No-Hitters

By Tom Spencer
Special for

May 17, 2024

Playing shortstop this year for East Jordan High School admittedly has become rather boring at times.

Northern Lower PeninsulaThere hasn’t been a whole lot of action at what’s usually the busiest spot in the infield — no matter who is playing it.

Junior Eli Burns knows that better than anyone. He is the Red Devils’ regular shortstop. He also pitches.

Ryder Malpass knows what it’s like to play short this season as well – he’s normally in the spot when Burns is on the mound.

But he also has a feel for how little the shortstop does regularly for the Division 4 No. 16 Red Devils from his usual spot at catcher – receiving behind the plate for a pitching staff averaging almost two strikeouts per inning. 

Just recently, East Jordan put together three straight no-hitters and four straight shutouts.

“It’s good,” Burns said of playing short. “When you have confidence with your pitchers you don’t have to worry about the ball being hit to you that much.”

Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. Malpass, a junior, started the shoutout string himself with a 4-0 win over Bellaire last week, when he earned the win throwing 5 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts while going 2 for 3 at the plate with a double and RBI. Junior Korbyn Russell closed out the game.

Then Burns started the no-hitter run in the second game that night with Bellaire, a 6-0 Red Devils win. Burns had 10 strikeouts and just a single walk allowed. He also tripled in the game.

This week the no-hitter string continued with 1-0 and 2-0 wins over Boyne City. Russell and senior Lucas Stone threw the Red Devils’ third and fourth no-hitters of the season.

Stone threw a perfect game across six innings. He struck out 12 batters on just 70 pitches and also went 2 for 3 with an RBI against the Ramblers. Russell earned the 1-0 win over Boyne City with 5 1/3 no-hit innings behind 11 strikeouts and with just a lone walk allowed. Stone followed Russell to pick up the save for the Red Devils, now 13-9-1 overall on the season and 6-4 in Lake Michigan Conference play.  

Russell is 6-2 on the season with two saves. Going into Thursday’s game with Charlevoix, he had struck out 92 batters over 42 innings while compiling a 0.86 ERA. Stone is 5-2. Before suffering his second loss of the season to the Rayders, his ERA was 1.17 and he had fanned 38 in 36 innings of work. Burns has racked up 17 strikeouts so far in just over 14 innings.

“It’s pretty special to be a part of something not many teams can do,” Russell said. “We have a special group of pitchers to get the job done.”

Stone credits the Red Devils’ defensive play for the pitching staff’s success.

“Our defense has helped the pitching a lot because they don’t make a lot of errors,” Stone said.  “It makes it a lot easier when you know they are going to make plays behind you.”

Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch.East Jordan came into this week beginning to approach the state records for consecutive shutout innings and games. That ended yesterday in twin bill losses to Division 3 No. 11 Charlevoix. But the Red Devils still can chase the national record of nine no-hit games in a season. (No official record is kept for no-hitters by a Michigan high school team in a season.)

There is also no known record of any East Jordan team racking up three no-hitter wins in a row.

“I don’t think there’s been any stretch with three no-hitters in a row, so that is pretty special,” noted East Jordan coach Adam Grybauskas. “We’re kind of picking up where things were last year and trying to build on last year’s success and make it even better this year.”

The Red Devils captured a Division 4 District championship in 2023 and then a 9-6 Regional Semifinal win over Gaylord St. Mary. The season came to an end in the Regional Final with a 2-0 loss to Painsdale Jeffers.

Russel, Stones and Burns were on the pitching staff last year as East Jordan made that run. The Red Devils will host the District tournament this year as familiar opponents Bellaire, Central Lake and Ellsworth will vie to stop East Jordan’s attempt at repeating as champion. The doubleheader loss to undefeated Charlevoix ended the Red Devils’ hopes of sharing the LMC title with the Rayders.

“I think we’ve played a little bit better competition this year,’ Grybauskas said.  “Our focus this year is taking each doubleheader at a time, and try to get better each week.

“It’s really been game by game and week to week,” he continued. “You’re always looking to do better than last year so obviously that will be something we’ll talk about in the future.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) East Jordan’s Lucas Stone winds up during a game. (Middle) Ryder Malpass keeps an eye on a runner before making his move toward the plate. (Below) Korbyn Russell prepares to unload a pitch. (Photos courtesy of the East Jordan athletic department.)