Allen Park Ends Carlson's Record Streak

March 4, 2017

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

GRAND RAPIDS – The final round of a competitive cheer meet has the ability to sway emotions one way or another.

On Saturday, Round 3 proved to be the deciding factor in the end of an incredible MHSAA record-breaking run and the extreme jubilation of a team finally getting over the hump.

Allen Park delivered a stirring Round 3 performance and rallied past six-time reigning champion Gibraltar Carlson to win the Division 2 Final at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex.

The Jaguars collected their first MHSAA Final since 2010 by the slimmest of margins. They posted a score of 787.96 and knocked off the top-ranked Marauders (787.90) by six hundredths of a point.

“Every little thing counts,” an elated Allen Park coach Julie Goodwin said. “I’ve never won a meet that was this close, but I’ll take this one. Round 3 has been a great round all year, and I knew if they came out fighting we would be able to take it. I knew it would be close, but I knew our Round 3 could do it for us.”

It appeared as if Gibraltar Carlson was headed toward a seventh straight Division 2 title after grabbing a three-point lead entering the final round.

However, the Jaguars were within striking distance of their Downriver League foe and needed a clutch effort.

“Our coach told us that if we wanted this right now then we had to go out there and do what you do best,” said Allen Park’s Delaney Millner, one of six seniors on the team.

“We went out there, and I think that’s exactly what we did. I could feel their energy on the mat, and ever since I was a little kid I wanted to be on this team and it’s the most humble feeling in the world knowing that my senior year I was able to go out with a bang.”

The Jaguars finished with a score of 321.4 in Round 3, while the Marauders had a 318.4.

“Round 3 is our favorite round and we have so many different things going on,” senior Olivia Grab said. “We knew going into Round 3 that if we put everything we could on the mat then we knew we could take it home.

“We worked so hard from the beginning of the season and so many girls returned from last year when we were runner-up. We knew how hard we had to work, and we broke the streak.”

Allen Park had been knocking on the door. It finished fourth in 2015 and runner-up to Gibraltar Carlson a year ago.

“I kept telling this team that, ‘you are close, you are almost there’, and this is the one that counts,” Goodwin said. “They battled and they wanted it. It’s the hardest-working team I’ve coached, and I couldn’t be more proud.

“After Round 1 we were down and that was a bummer, but it takes three rounds. I knew our Round 2 and Round 3 could pull us through if they did what they needed to do, and they did. They’re the six-time defending champions, and they’re very good.”

Added Millner: “I knew with this team that we had the ability, we had the talent and we had the work ethic. We just had to go out there and kill it.”

It was an emotional outcome for Gibraltar Carlson, which has been a perennial powerhouse in Division 2 for almost a decade.

The Marauders, who were young this season with only one senior, had won eight titles over the last nine years, including setting a new MHSAA record for consecutive titles in any division last season.

“I thought they did great, and I’m very proud of them,” Gibraltar Carlson coach Ayrn Ziesmer said. “Round 1 we came out with a very strong lead, and we could’ve done a little better in Round 2, but we still ended up winning the round. Round 3 was great, and I couldn’t have asked anything more from them.

“Allen Park did great today. I thought today was the best I’ve ever seen them, and I’m really excited for them. They’ve had to go through watching someone else win for six years, and I really hope they enjoy this time because it definitely goes by so fast before you start preparing for another.”

Muskegon Mona Shores (778.94) placed third for its highest finish in school history, while Dearborn Divine Child (775.76) was fourth.

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PHOTOS: (Top) Allen Park performs a routine during Saturday’s Division 2 Final. (Middle) Gibraltar Carlson finished second at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex.

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.)