Division 1 Cheer: Titanic Finish

March 2, 2012

GRAND RAPIDS – Moments before its final round Friday, Southgate Anderson launched into an “I believe that we will win” chant with its crew of fans at the Grand Rapids Delta Plex.

A year ago, the Titans came to the MHSAA Division 1 Final with similar confidence – and finished seventh of eight teams at the championship meet.

But this time, with lessons learned, Southgate Anderson backed it up. The Titans scored the meet’s top Round 2 and 3 scores and outlasted surging Hudsonville to win their first MHSAA cheer championship.

“Last year … it was a crushing blow. We couldn’t believe that happened, and we weren’t going to let it happen again,” Titans senior Bri Walsh said. “We worked too hard to let it go. We needed to push through.

“It was a mindset. I’ve never been on a team this dedicated.”

Southgate Anderson scored 816.6032 points Friday, besting its previous top score this season by less than a tenth of a point. Hudsonville, which like Anderson had never finished even among the top two at the Finals, came in second with 813.2976. Rochester Stoney Creek was third with a score of 811.3456.

The Titans’ pre-Round 3 chant carried additional significance because of strong performances the last two weeks. As the regular season came to a close, Southgate Anderson considered itself a strong Round 2 team. For a while before that, the Titans specialized in Round 1.

But just before Districts, Southgate Anderson made some switches in its final routine that paid off big. Also, coach Colette Norscia said the difference between this and past teams was the increased time it spent conditioning. And Walsh agreed that was a difference-maker in the Titans’ being able to land more difficult skills this winter.

Although 16 of Southgate Anderson’s 28 cheerleaders were on the team last year, most of Friday’s competitors watched from the sideline in 2011.

“They were hungry for it last year,” Norscia said. They had an opportunity to see on the sideline what needed to be done, and they took that into the gym this year.”

She admitted that unlike usual, she didn’t look at the scoreboard heading into her team’s Round 3, and had no idea where her team stood. Hudsonville performed its Round 3 later in the final rotation, and Eagles coach Amanda Cooper did look at the scores and knew her team needed to be just about perfect to move into first place.

Hudsonville was nearly flawless and finished nine tenths behind the Titans in that round with a score of 324.600. But the Eagles’ final score was its best this season by nearly three points, and the runner-up finish bested their best previous Finals placing of third in 2010. Hudsonville finished eighth last season.

“We had our best three rounds on the same day here at states, and I can’t ask for anything more,” Cooper said. “We had an amazing week of practice and an amazing warm-up, so I was just excited for them to go out there and nail (Round 3). That’s what we said – just have a clean, fun, solid round.

“Runner-up is awesome. We couldn’t be any happier.”

Click for full results from the Division 1 Final, and check back Saturday night for results from Divisions 2, 3 and 4.

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.)