Carlson Raises Bar with Perfect Run

March 1, 2014

By Dean Holzwarth
Special to Second Half

GRAND RAPIDS – Gibraltar Carlson senior Sarah Tritt was sporting three shiny MHSAA championship rings on her left hand following Saturday’s competitive cheer Division 2 Final.

She soon will be adding another one to the collection.

“Yes, we are going to be designing our fourth one,” Tritt said after the Marauders captured their fourth consecutive Division 2 crown at The DeltaPlex.

Gibraltar Carlson tallied a three-round score of 780.10, while Dearborn Divine Child placed runner-up for the fourth year in a row with a 772.24 total. Allen Park finished third at 769.06.

The Marauders continued their string of dominance in Division 2. They have won the Finals six of the last eight years and were runners-up in 2010.

“It never gets old,” Gibraltar Carlson coach Danielle Jokela said. “I think that these kids did something that was close to impossible – they won four state titles in a row.”

In fact, the Downriver League champions never lost a competition this season – an impressive feat in itself, especially considering the league includes four MHSAA Finals qualifiers and three-time reigning Division 1 champion Southgate Anderson.

“This is the first season that I’ve ever coached an undefeated team where they have won every single competition,” Jokela said. “They fought hard, they did everything I asked them to do, and today they became state champions.”

Tritt joined teammates Alexis Kopchia and Maelyn Russo as the only seniors to compete on the mat all four years at the Finals.

“This feeling is indescribable,” Tritt said. “It’s like nothing I could ever imagine, and I could not ask for anything more. We were able to overcome so much this year and we pushed through it all and still were able to end on top every time.”

Senior Kiah Manthei agreed with her coach – winning championships never gets old.

“No, it feels better every time,” Manthei said. “This year’s team is the best that we’ve had. There was no drama and we’re all really close. We just knew today that if we performed how we practiced, that it was ours.”

Gibraltar Carlson charged to an early advantage with a pair of dominating rounds.

It posted high scores in Round 1 (234.9) and Round 2 (230.1).

“Round 1 has been our saving grace this year and is amazing, and we have very talented girls in Round 2 who have beautiful skills,” Jokela said. “Getting those high scores definitely boosted our confidence and kept us ahead. That’s what won the state title for us.”

The Marauders held a nearly eight-point cushion entering the final round.

“It’s always good to be a little ahead after Rounds 1 and 2,” Tritt said. “It makes it so much easier going into Round 3.”

Gibraltar Carlson registered a 315.1 in Round 3, which was the third highest among the eight teams.

“We nailed the first two and Round 3 was good enough to seal the deal,” Jokela said.

Dearborn Divine Child, which won the Detroit Catholic League title, trailed Gibraltar Carlson by four points after Round 1 despite scoring a solid 230.2 to open the Final.

It had another superb Round 2 (226.84), and capped the day with the second-highest Round 3 score (315.2).

“It was their goal today to hit three perfect rounds, and really, at the end of the day, we don’t have any control over anyone else or what the judges give us or anybody else,” Falcons coach Amber Genevich said. “They haven’t hit three perfect rounds all season and they did that today. We would’ve loved to finish first, but we’re proud because not many teams here can say that they hit solid rounds, and we did.”

While the frustration of placing runner-up again still lingered, Genevich said this year’s team peaked at the end of the year.

“You get a little tired of being second best, but this year’s second place feels a little different than maybe last year,” she said. “We weren’t a second place team all season. We were third place or fourth place, so we had to work from the bottom and really climb our way to the top.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Gibraltar Carlson athletes look into the crowd during Saturday’s Round 2. (Middle) Dearborn Divine Child performs its Round 3 routine. (Click for action and team photos 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.)