D2 Preview: Carlson Chases History Again

March 4, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Gibraltar Carlson can add an MHSAA record Saturday to its already-incredible competitive cheer history.

With a sixth straight Division 2 championship, the Marauders would stand alone with the most consecutive MHSAA titles, regardless of class or division. They currently are tied for the longest streak with the Rochester teams from 1999-2003.

Following are glances at all eight Division 2 teams competing at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday. All four Cheer Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable on a subscription basis.

Rank: No. 2.
League finish: Third in Downriver League.
Coach: Julie Goodwin, 11th season. 
Championship history: Division 2 champion 2010, runner-up 2008. 
Top score: 782.98 at the Regional.
Team composition: 24 total (four seniors, four juniors, 10 sophomores, six freshmen). 
Outlook: This team has a much different look than the one that finished fourth last season; the Jaguars had 11 seniors on that squad, but have four now but a large sophomore class. The new group has kept the same level of success, finishing no lower than third in an event this winter and second at last week’s Regional. Allen Park’s top Round 1 score of 237.1 is tops in Division 2, and its average overall score of 761.4 ranks second in the division – and the Jaguars came less than a point from beating Carlson at the Regional.

Rank: No. 6.
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League. 
Coach: Amber Genevich, 11th season.
Championship history: Four runner-up finishes (most recent 2014).
Top score: 780.36 at the District.
Team composition: 28 total (two seniors, 13 juniors, six sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: After four straight runner-up finishes in Division 2, Divine Child came in third last season but only 12 hundredths of a point from finishing second again. The Falcons have taken a jump over the last two postseason meets, with the overall scores at those events their best this winter. Divine Child’s top Round 2 score of 229.1 ranks second in Division 2, and its average overall score of 748.7 is a solid fourth. Junior Victoria Greco earned an all-state honorable mention last season.

Rank: No. 4.
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Red. 
Coach: Candace Heskitt, eighth season.
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2015 and 2007.
Top score: 775.80 at the District. 
Team composition: 25 total (six seniors, two juniors, six sophomores, 11 freshmen).
Outlook: This is another team that has a younger make-up for this trip to the DeltaPlex, but arrives after winning its District and coming in second at the Regional – and placing lower than second at events only twice this season. And there’s plenty of experience, with senior Elizabeth Zunker an all-state first-teamer last season, senior Grace Colarossi making the second team and senior Payton Daggy earning honorable mention. The Panthers are especially strong in Round 1, with a top score of 235.1 ranking third in Division 2 this season.

Rank: No. 1.
League finish: First in Downriver League. 
Coach: Ayrn Ziesmer, second season.
Championship history: Eight MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), four runner-up finishes.
Top score: 786.40 at the District.
Team composition: 20 total (one senior, one junior, 11 sophomores, seven freshmen).
Outlook: The dynasty continued last season under a new coach as Carlson won its sixth championship in seven seasons and fifth straight. And the surge shows no signs of slowing as the Marauders bring one of the youngest teams to the DeltaPlex this weekend – but one that has an average overall score of 774.1 that tops Division 2 and ranks fourth regardless of division. Carlson’s top Round 2 score of 230.9 this season also ranks first in Division 2. Lone senior Mary Miller made the all-state first team last season, as did sophomore Hannah Pryba, while sophomores Samantha Zdankiewicz, Madison Holbrook and Derrian Forynski made the second team and sophomores Julia Nemeth, Gabby Genaw and Morgan Thomas earned honorable mentions.

Rank: No. 3.
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Black.
Coach: Chris Hudson, sixth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 772.78.
Team composition: 23 total (seven seniors, three juniors, seven sophomores, six freshmen). 
Outlook: After finishing second at its league and District in 2015, Kenowa Hills won both again this winter; in fact, the Knights won all but one of their events and have finished first at eight straight. Kenowa Hills finished sixth at last season’s Final, but enters this weekend with the top Round 3 score in Division 2, 320.0, and third-highest average overall score in the division of 756.0. Senior Jordan Stellini made the all-state first team last season, while senior Kayla Impellizzeri made the second team and senior Skyler Dochod earned an honorable mention.

Rank: No. 5.
League finish: Second in O-K Black.
Coach: Amanda Heethuis, ninth season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish. 
Top score: 769.48.
Team composition: 23 total (five seniors, seven juniors, seven sophomores, four freshmen).
Outlook: After a season away, Mona Shores is back at the Finals coming off a second-place finish at its District and third at its Regional. The Sailors have finished first or second nine times this season and lower than third only once. Mona Shores surges in Round 2 – its top score of 227.5 ranks seventh in Division 2 – and its average overall score of 740.3 ranks sixth in the division. Senior Kennedy Ryan earned an all-region honorable mention in 2015.

Rank: Unranked.
League finish: First Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference.
Coach: Julie Jones, 19th season.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish.
Top score: 747.86.
Team composition: 18 total (11 seniors, four juniors, one sophomore, two freshmen).
Outlook: The senior-laden Blue Devils have surged in their first MHSAA Final since 2006 after a second straight league title and fourth straight Regional berth. Gull Lake won eight of its first 10 events this season and has posted four of its five top scores over the last five meets. Its top Round 2 and average overall scores both rank among the top 10 in Division 2 this season. Senior Montana Rehm earned an all-region honorable mention in 2015.

Rank: No. 10.
League finish: Fourth in Downriver League. 
Co-coaches: Michelle Maci and Kelly Leone, first seasons.
Championship history: Seeking first MHSAA Finals top-two finish. 
Top score: 774.68 at the Regional.
Team composition: 18 total (six seniors, five juniors, five sophomores, two freshmen).
Outlook: Trenton gives the strong Downriver League its fourth MHSAA finalist and third in this division. The Trojans advanced from a Regional that included two teams from its league but would’ve won the other Regional in Division 2 with their overall score. Trenton’s top scores in all three rounds rank among the top 10 in the division this season. Maci and Leone combine to bring coaching experience from multiple schools, including Divine Child. Seniors Erika Brower and Kelsi Hackney made the all-district second team last season.

PHOTO: Gibraltar Carlson competes during Round 3 of last season’s MHSAA Division 2 championship meet.

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.)