D3 Preview: Contenders Growing as Richmond Hopes to Reign Again

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 4, 2022

Paw Paw last year became the first team since 2014 to break into the top two at the Division 3 Competitive Cheer Finals that had been occupied in recent seasons solely by Richmond and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.

Richmond will be seeking its fourth consecutive championship Saturday at Grand Rapids’ Delta Plex. And we’ll see if Notre Dame Prep and Paw Paw are both able to make a strong push again, or if another new team might join the mix.

Division 3 competition begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. Tickets cost $10 and may be bought at the Delta Plex, and all four Finals will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv and viewable with a subscription. More information, including the spectator seating chart, is posted at MHSAA.com.

Below is a look at all eight finalists: 

League finish: Second in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Katie Tomlinson, seventh season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 772.38 at Regional.
Team composition: 24 total (five seniors, six juniors, seven sophomores, six freshmen).
Outlook: Croswell-Lexington has finished fourth and fifth the last two seasons, and its top score this season is five points higher than heading into the Finals a year ago – and landed the Pioneers a third place at their Regional after they came in fourth at their District. Senior Ashley Peyerk made the all-state first team last season, and senior Taylor Johnson and sophomore Shelby Oliver made the second team.  

League finish:
 First in Central State Activities Association
Coach: Jennifer Laskey, 15th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 747.96 at District.
Team composition: 24 total (five seniors, five juniors, four sophomores, 10 freshmen).
Outlook: Tri County is returning to the Finals after most recently finishing seventh in 2019. The Vikings opened this season with seven straight victories and eight over their first nine competitions, and their three highest scores have come over their last three events. Tri County did not compete during the postseason in 2021, but senior Vegas Hojnacki and junior Madalynn Laskey earned all-Regional recognition in 2020.

League finish:
 First in Greater Lansing Activities Conference
Coach: Kim Martin, 30th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 757.5 at District
Team composition: 25 total (six seniors, five juniors, six sophomores, eight freshmen).
Outlook: Lakewood is returning to the Finals for the first time since placing fifth in 2018. The Vikings won their first seven competitions this season and came in second at their District, and they’ve twice surpassed 754 points. Lakewood also didn’t compete during the 2021 postseason, but seniors Hokulani Kaalakea and Elizabeth Minard both earned all-District recognition in 2020.

League finish:
 Second in Huron League
Coach: Sara Griffin, 15th season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 770.72 at Regional
Team composition: 18 total (eight seniors, three juniors, four sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Jefferson is back at the Finals for the first time since finishing third place back-to-back in 2018 and 2019. The Bears finished sixth at their Regional last season but bounced back to qualify fourth last weekend. Senior Brianna Buchanan earned all-Regional recognition in 2021.

League finish: First in Wolverine Conference.
Coach: Stefanie Miller, 13th season
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up in 2021.
Top score: 783.56.
Team composition: 20 total (nine seniors, three juniors, five sophomores, three freshmen).
Outlook: Paw Paw broke into the top two last season for the first time, finishing second after coming in third in 2020. The Red Wolves have continued to surge, winning both their District and Regional over the last two weekends and posting scores of 772 or higher five times with their top score this season four points higher than a year ago heading into the Finals. A number of last year’s top athletes are leading the way again – seniors Paige Miller and Alexis Sunlin made the all-state first team last season, while seniors Rylee Goldberg and Molly Goodwin and sophomore Maya Leonard made the second team.  

League finish: Does not compete in a league.
Coach: Beth Lockhart, 10th season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2018), three runner-up finishes.
Top score: 784.84 at District.
Team composition: 18 total (five seniors, one junior, three sophomores, nine freshmen).
Outlook: The Fighting Irish finished third last season after eight straight top-two finishes in Division 3, and they’ll be in the mix again after finishing second to Richmond at their District and Regional. Notre Dame Prep hasn’t finished lower than second in a competition this season and has broken 780 points twice and 771 three more times. Seniors Grace Byrne and Riley Lumm made the all-state first team last season, with senior Isabella Lulaj making the second and sophomore Alaina Byrne earning honorable mention.

League finish:
 First in Capital Area Activities Conference White
Coach: Mindy Blaschka, ninth season
Championship history: Seeking first top-two Finals finish.
Top score: 770.78.
Team composition: 19 total (six seniors, three juniors, nine sophomores, one freshman).
Outlook: The Raiders have advanced to the Finals for the first time after winning their fourth-straight league and second-straight District titles. Portland also was runner-up at its Regional and has scored 762 or higher its last three competitions. Seniors Catherine Svanda, Avery Brennan and Adrienne Hinds and junior Lily Buckland made the all-District first team last season.

League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference.
Coach: Kelli Matthes, 14th season
Championship history: Five MHSAA titles (most recent 2021), five runner-up finishes.
Top score: 789.78 at District.
Team composition: 26 total (eight seniors, six juniors, three sophomores, nine freshmen).
Outlook: Richmond has won three straight Division 3 titles and enters with a top score eight points higher than their best heading into last season’s Finals. The Blue Devils have won all of their competitions this season and scored 783 or higher in six including 786 to win their District and Regional. Ten of the team’s 12 all-staters are back. Seniors Makenna Parker, Hannah Jeroue, Savanna Krywy, Ava Moskwa and Gracie Ellis all made the first team last season, while senior Eryn Hart and juniors Ella Allen and Nicole Ostaszewski made the second team and junior Esther Lopiccolo and sophomore Annabell Loftis earned honorable mentions.  

PHOTO Richmond competes during last year’s Round 3 at Breslin Center. (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 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.)