Grandville Finishes Unforgettable Run

March 6, 2015

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – Jasmine Martinez doesn’t remember much of what she and her teammates performed during their three rounds on the DeltaPlex mat Friday.

But the Grandville senior has a pretty good idea what she’ll see when she re-watches this season’s MHSAA Division 1 Competitive Cheer Final. 

“I think our hearts on the line,” Martinez said. “We just knew we had to do it for each other, for the legacy we had and for the coaches who pushed us harder than we ever thought we could push ourselves.”

Grandville pushed all the way to its first MHSAA title since 2011 and sixth championship in school history. 

The Bulldogs first had to push past an early deficit to 12-time champion Rochester, but posted the Final’s high scores for Rounds 2 and 3 to edge the Falcons 786.80-785.34 when the overall scores were tallied.

The close win went well with a close loss to Southgate Anderson at last season’s Final, where Grandville finished runner-up by a mere 2.42 points. 

“We have 12 seniors on the team. All of us were at State last year, and we knew what it was like to come that close and have it taken away from us,” Martinez said. “That fueled us all season. From Feb. 28 last year, when we lost, we said we will be state champs March 6, 2015.”

The top four teams Friday were separated by fewer than three points. Rochester Hills Stoney Creek was third at 784.28, and Lake Orion finished fourth at 783.84. 

To finish atop such a close, competitive field took a little something extra special. And Grandville coach Julie Smith-Boyd said this team was unlike any other during her 34 years running the program.

The Bulldogs were healthy throughout the winter, allowing them to be strong early and begin fine-tuning their routines in January to eliminate the errors that could’ve shaved valuable tenths of points off their scores. 

But Friday took more than skills.

“We had an intangible thing, fire, heart, I don’t know,” Smith-Boyd said. “It was inside them. They were just so determined. I’ve never had a team quite like this before.

“We’ve won six times, and every one is special. But to see them have that almost out-of-body experience, that sounds weird, but I just never really felt that like today.” 

Unlike last season, when Grandville was tied for first after Round 1, the Bulldogs trailed Rochester by 1.3 points at that point Friday.

Rochester entered the Final having posted the highest scores in Division 1 this season in all three rounds. But Grandville posted a 230.40 to lead Round 2 on Friday while Rochester came in at 228.84, and the Bulldogs then tied Rochester’s division-best Round 3 score with a 321.00 to finish the meet. The Falcons scored 319.80 in Round 3 to secure second place. 

“We really struggled in Round 2, which was a shock to us. That round usually is not a problem, but it was nerves I guess,” Rochester coach Susan Wood said. “We know we were close, but we know that we should not have won. We didn’t have the three rounds that we had (winning) at Regionals and Districts.”

Few know what it takes to be in the championship mix as much as Wood, who also finished her 34th season and has led Rochester to 12 MHSAA titles. The Falcons didn’t make the Finals a year ago, making Friday’s runner-up finish that much more satisfying. 

Grandville also experienced a stretch of tough times in 2013 on the way to finishing runner-up last season, including the deaths of two athletes’ mothers that fall after fights with cancer and the deaths of two classmates a year ago this week.

“It’s just special to see them get through it and grow from it,” Smith-Boyd said. “It was amazing.” 

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PHOTOS: (Top) Grandville takes the mat during Friday’s Division 1 Final at the Grand Rapids DeltaPlex. (Middle) Rochester performs its routine during Round 3.

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.)