Downriver Dominates Again as Allen Park Leads League's top 3 in 3-Peat

By Tom Kendra
Special for

March 5, 2022

GRAND RAPIDS – Allen Park senior captain Adri Carone answered the question before it was even asked.

“It never, ever, ever gets old,” said Carone with a big smile, after helping her team secure its third-consecutive Division 2 championship Saturday morning at the Delta Plex.

“I can honestly say it feels just as amazing every time.”

The Jaguars had their huge throng of fans sweating it out, but another powerhouse Round 3 performance was the difference as Allen Park (791.60) edged upset-minded Downriver League rival Gibralter Carlson (788.02).

Southgate Anderson placed third with 773.54 points, giving the nine-school Downriver League the top three spots in the state in Division 2 – and the same order of finish as the league tournament and last week’s Regional.

Carlson made things interesting by taking the lead by one tenth of a point after Round 1, then still hung within a razor-thin, 0.38 of a point after Round 2.

Gibraltar CarlsonIt came down to a test of physical and mental discipline in the final round, and that’s when Allen Park’s tradition and experience showed through.

“Round 3 has been our strength all year, and that was the case again today,” said veteran Allen Park coach Julie Goodwin, now in her 16th year. “We have amazing stunters who rise to the challenge.”

Carlson went last in the final round and delivered a fantastic performance of its own. The Marauders’ third-round score of 317.30 was more than five points better than six other teams – all but Allen Park.

The Jaguars, going sixth out of the eight teams in the last round, scored a 320.60 – pushing them over 790 points for the sixth time in their last seven competitions.

“I am so proud of this team because we worked so hard this season – day after day after day,” said Cassidy Kuhn, one of two returning senior all-staters for Allen Park, along with Carone. “Today just feels like a dream.”

Kuhn and Carone are two of nine seniors for the Jaguars, who will leave with a runner-up finish as freshmen and championships the past three years. Other seniors were Kirstyn Ferguson, Sharlotte Kehr, Cassidy Reardon, Emily Unger, Makenzy Varner, Mackenzie Waddell and Cara Wischow.

Dearborn Divine Child placed fourth, followed by last year’s runner-up, DeWitt.

First-year Carlson coach Alyssa Tocco knows all about the Allen Park cheer program. Tocco was a standout and 2016 graduate of Allen Park, who coached the past five years at Plymouth before taking over a Gibralter Carlson program which has won 11 Finals titles (the last in 2019) and now has seven runner-up finishes.

“I am so proud of this team because 18 of the 23 girls we brought here are at the state finals for the very first time,” said Tocco, who had just three seniors on the roster. “They truly are the hardest-working team I’ve ever met.”

Goodwin gave a special shoutout to the Allen Park community, which seemingly abandoned town Saturday morning and packed the Delta Plex, shaking the building’s rafters in all three rounds – particularly the pivotal Round 3 as the Jaguars nailed stunt after stunt and landing after landing.

“Our crowd makes us who we are,” said Goodwin, who is assisted by Meaghan Terry, Tina Johnson, Jessica Tremonti, Theresa Couturier and Tera Waddell. “We feed off of them. It takes all of us.”

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PHOTOS Allen Park (top) and Gibraltar Carlson (middle) compete during Saturday’s Division 2 Final at Grand Rapids’ Delta Plex. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photo.)

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.)