Adams All Business In Division 1 Title Repeat

By Tom Kendra
Special for

March 26, 2021

EAST LANSING – Rochester Adams eked out its first Finals championship last year, but this time the Highlanders gave their nerves a little bit of a rest.

Adams posted the best score in all three rounds in Friday’s Division 1 championship competition at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center for a 790.52 total, nearly eight full points better than unexpected runner-up Grandville (782.60).

“We expected to win this year – that was our mindset,” said Claire Crutchfield, one of seven seniors on the Highlanders’ roster.

“Maybe we didn’t think we’d win by that much, but we have been working non-stop since state last year and all of that hard work has paid off.”

Plymouth (782.36) placed third after last year’s runner-up finish, and Grand Blanc (780.30) took fourth.

Adams now has finished either first or second in Division 1 four years in a row, with runner-up finishes in 2018 and 2019.

Grandville competitive cheerThe Highlanders lost only four seniors off last year’s team and had a strong group of senior leaders this winter. Crutchfield and Olivia Ris are both returning first-team all-staters, Ava Bondra was second team in 2020, Melina Catenucci and Carly Schultz were honorable mention and the other seniors are Maya Dalal and Kennedy Lloyd.

Brooke Miller, who is in her seventh year as Adams coach, said her team’s business-like approach was critical Friday and throughout the season, as it won all but one competition all year.

“We do a lot of visualization and practice keeping our nerves in check,” explained Miller, who is assisted by Jocelyn Welsh, Quin Gonzalez and Alison Keaser. “Then when we get in a pressure situation, it’s kind of business-like. It’s just doing what we do.”

The win also solidified Rochester as the epicenter of Division 1 cheer in Michigan. The city in northern Oakland County has produced five of the past six D1 champions – with Rochester winning in 2016 and 2017 and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek in 2019.

The hardest part of the day for the Highlanders’ seniors was when it ended.

“I’ve never been on a team with a bond like this, so yeah, it was very bittersweet running off that mat for the last time,” said Schultz.

The biggest surprise of the day was Grandville, which didn’t even make the Finals last year and got off to slow start Friday, sitting in sixth place after the first round.

But the Bulldogs kept fighting and moved up to fourth after a solid second round. Then they nailed their third round to vault all the way to second when the final results were announced.

“What a Round 3; we really hit it,” said Grandville coach Julie Smith-Boyd, who is the dean of state cheer coaches in her 40th year. “We didn’t make it to state last year and we have a very young team, so just getting here was a big accomplishment – taking second is fantastic.”

Smith-Boyd has led Grandville to six Finals titles, the most recent in 2015, and now has 10 runner-up finishes.

This season’s may have been the most unanticipated of any of those top finishes, as the Bulldogs had just three seniors, who were also the team’s captains – Chloe Beatty, Ellie Irwin and Charli Sanchez.

Click for full team standings.

PHOTOS: (Top) Rochester Adams celebrates its repeat championship in Division 1 on Friday. (Middle) Grandville rose from sixth after Round 1 to finish runner-up. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Bragging Rights for Both as Multi-Sport Sage Twins Shine at Ford Field

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

March 10, 2023

SOUTHGATE – The question of “Which child is your favorite?” is impossible for any parent to answer, but Shawn Sage has an additional question that’s impossible to answer regarding his son Jackson and daughter Brooklyn.

Greater DetroitThat question is, “Who would win a wrestling match between the two?”

“They are both raising their hands right now smiling about it,” Shawn Sage said with a laugh during a phone conversation.

It’s a good-natured question anybody can pose to Shawn Sage, given his son and daughter are not only twins by birth, but in wrestling achievements as sophomores at Southgate Anderson.

Last weekend at Ford Field, Jackson Sage competed in his second Individual Finals, where he finished fourth in Division 2 in the 157-pound weight class.

It was an improvement from last year’s event, when he qualified as a freshman but didn’t place.

“I was more used to it,” Jackson Sage said. “Last year was a different experience being at Ford Field the first time.”

Brooklyn Sage qualified for the Individual Finals this season as well, where she finished sixth in the Girls Division 155-pound weight class.

The winter was busy for both, but especially for Brooklyn. In addition to competing in wrestling, she was also a member of the school’s competitive cheer team.

“I knew that it would be a commitment,” she said. “But I was up for it. I was at the school for about 14 hours a day, but it was worth it at the end.”

Jackson and Brooklyn are each three-sport athletes. Jackson is the quarterback on the football team in the fall and a member of the track team (he competes in 300 hurdles and two relays) in the spring, while Brooklyn plays softball.

But it’s wrestling where the two share their greatest bond athletically.

Jackson started getting involved in the sport when was around elementary school age, and Brooklyn would tag along to practices.

Along the way, she became intrigued enough to try wrestling herself.

“I liked being able to know that I could defend myself and take care of myself in different ways,” she said. “To be able to stand up for myself.”

Brooklyn said she stopped wrestling competitively around sixth grade because there weren’t opportunities for girls to compete only against each other, but that changed when a girls-only division was added to the MHSAA Tournament with the 2021-22 season.

With both able to compete in high school, at-home workouts intensified. The two regularly train against each other on a mat in their basement, where technique is honed and toughness is sharpened.

“She pushes me a lot,” Jackson said.

Both also learn from each other’s experiences.

“I feel like watching him made me more motivated to do it,” Brooklyn said. “He’s taught me a lot of technique that I wouldn’t have known from his past experiences and coach.”

Added Jackson: “I’ve learned from her matches.”

This week has actually presented a rarity for both in that they’ve had time off.

With wrestling ending and spring sports not officially opening practice until Monday, the two haven’t had practices and competitions.

That’ll change next week when they go their separate ways with Jackson to track practice and Brooklyn joining the softball squad, and they’ll focus on those sports for the rest of the school year.

But with two more years of eligibility left and all-state finishes in wrestling already, the sky is the limit for the next two years in that sport for both.

With that in mind, the questions to Dad about who would win a match are likely only getting started.

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties

PHOTO Southgate Anderson twins Brooklyn, left, and Jackson Sage both placed at this season’s Wrestling Individual Finals. (Photo courtesy of the Sage family.)