D1 Preview: Adams Leads Field of Hopefuls

March 6, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Rochester Hills has regained its status as the hub for Division 1 competitive cheer, with Stoney Creek and Rochester High combining to win three of the last four Finals championships.

Rochester Adams hopes to join its neighbors Friday night with its first title after finishing runner at the Grand Rapids Delta Plex the last two seasons. But the Highlanders hardly are alone in that pursuit – seven of tonight’s eight contenders will be competing to win their first championship at this highest level.

Below are glances at all eight teams. Round 1 begins at 6 p.m. and the event in its entirety will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a subscription basis. Click here for the Finals rotation schedule and other important information.

League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Christina Wilson, eighth season
Championship history: Class A runner-up 1999.
Top score: 788.44.
Team composition: 22 total (six seniors, six juniors, eight sophomores, two freshmen)
Outlook: The Bulldogs are looking to build on last season’s fourth-place finish and have finished first or second in all of their events this season except the Regional, where they came in fourth. Brighton scored 784.06 to win a fifth-straight District title, and the team has gone over 780 five times. Seniors Lexi Maximoff and Yale Zultowski both earned all-state honorable mentions last season.

League finish: First in Saginaw Valley League
Coach: Christina Swansey, ninth season
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 792.12.
Team composition: 28 total (eight seniors, eight juniors, nine sophomores, three freshmen)
Outlook: The Bobcats have finished fifth and fourth at the Finals the last two seasons and enter as one of the favorites this weekend. Grand Blanc has the highest average total score (785.1) in Division 1 and all three rounds rank fourth or higher with its top Round 2 (233.0) also best in the division. The Bobcats have won five straight competitions, including their league, District and Regional meets. Senior Jacquelyn Engel made the all-state second team last season, and seniors LaNya Bates and Kalyn Olson earned honorable mentions.

League finish: Second in KLAA West
Coach: Candace Fahr, third season
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2013.
Top score: 780.86.
Team composition: 20 total (four seniors, two juniors, 10 sophomores, four freshmen)
Outlook: Hartland returned to the Finals last season after three away and finished eighth, and they’re surging at the right time with two of their top three scores this season coming over their last three meets. The Eagles are loaded with underclassmen, so Friday could provide another block on a growing foundation. Hartland is especially strong at Round 3, where its best score is 319.2.

League finish: Fourth in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Nicole Hills, sixth season
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 784.06 at the District.
Team composition: 30 total (six seniors, eight juniors, 10 sophomores, six freshmen)
Outlook: The Dragons are back at the Finals after a season away, having finished second at their District and Regional with their two highest overall scores of this season. They too are especially strong in Round 3, where their top score of 319.6 ranks eighth in Division 1 this season. Senior Kaitlin Dolland and junior Tara Koncelik made the all-District first team in 2019.

League finish: First in KLAA East and overall
Coach: Samantha Koehler, fifth season
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 791.98 at the Regional.
Team composition: 26 total (nine seniors, four juniors, nine sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: Plymouth is headed to the Finals for the first time, adding to an impressive run that also has included the overall KLAA title ahead of two more teams competing in Division 1 this weekend. The Wildcats finished second at their Regional to Rochester Adams by just 14 hundredths of a point. Plymouth has the second-highest Round 3 score (322.3) in its division, and its Regional overall score was third-highest in all of Division 1 for this season. Senior Allison Stepek made the all-District first team in 2019.

League finish: First in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Susan Wood, 39
th season
Championship history: Fourteen MHSAA titles (most recent 2017) 
Top score: 791.34 at the Regional (and OAA Red final).
Team composition: 28 total (seven seniors, 10 juniors, six sophomores, five freshmen)
Outlook: Rochester had a rare season not making the Finals in 2019, but the Falcons have stormed back posting their four highest overall scores of the season over their last four meets. They’re capable of big things – Rochester’s best Round 1 score (239.2) ranks first in Division 1, while its best Round 2 (232.6) ranks second and best Round 3 (321.9) ranks third. The Falcons finished third overall at their most recent Finals two years ago.

League finish: Third in OAA Red
Coach: Brooke Miller, sixth season
Championship history: Division 1 runner-up 2018 and 2019, Class A runner-up 1996. 
Top score: 793.78 at the District.
Team composition: 27 total (four seniors, six juniors, nine sophomores, eight freshmen).
Outlook: Adams has been on the verge of a first title with two straight runner-up finishes, last season scoring 788.89 to finish behind only Stoney Creek. After placing third in one of the state’s strongest leagues, the Highlanders won both their District and Regional with their two highest overall scores of the season. Their best Round 3 (322.5) and overall scores are the best in Division 1 this winter. Standout veterans lead the way: seniors Delaney Crowe, Katie Crowe and Lyndi Harmon made the all-state second team last season, and juniors Claire Crutchfield and Olivia Ris earned honorable mention.

League finish: First in MAC Red
Coach: Kristy Potance, second season
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 791.82 at the Regional.
Team composition: 25 total (10 seniors, nine juniors, five sophomores, one freshman)
Outlook: After making the Finals for the first time last season – and placing seventh – Eisenhower is making the trip again. The Eagles graduated 10 seniors last spring but bring back 10 more plus nine juniors. Their top round scores all rank among the top five in Division 1 this season, led by a third-best Round 2 (232.6). Aside from a third place at the Regional, Eisenhower has finished first or second in all of its competitions. Seniors Julia Milke and Christian Milosavljevic and junior Alexis Mitchell all earned all-Regional recognition in 2019.

PHOTO: Rochester Adams performs its routine during its Regional championship run at Troy Athens. (Photo courtesy of C&G Newspapers.)

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

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

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 keithdunlap78@gmail.com 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.)