Hudson Meets Challenge Again in Extending Championship Streak to 4

By Tom Kendra
Special for

March 2, 2023

MOUNT PLEASANT – Hudson High School is going to need a bigger trophy case, and soon, the way its winter sports teams are piling up championships.

Hudson’s competitive cheer team won its fourth-straight Division 4 title Thursday at Central Michigan University’s McGuirk Arena, and the Tigers now have finished either first or second in the state seven years in a row.

“Do you want me to cry?” said 26th-year Hudson coach Kelly Bailey when asked about her emotions shortly after her team’s dominant 771.04-point performance, more than 25 points ahead of the field.

“We gave them some tough stuff each round and that added to the pressure, but they wanted the challenge and they wanted to do it. They pulled it off.”

Hudson’s cheer program is engaged in a healthy competition with the school’s wrestling program, which just five days earlier won its 10th Division 4 team championship over the past 14 years.

That kind of simultaneous success for two programs at the same school, in the same season, is remarkable – and the orange-and-black-clad Tigers fans were out in force Thursday afternoon in Mount Pleasant, just like they were last Friday in Kalamazoo.

Hudson produced the highest score in all three rounds of the Final, never allowing the other seven teams to gain momentum in an upset bid.

“There was a lot of pressure to win it again,” said Hudson senior Annalyse Ames, one of four returning first-team all-staters for the Tigers. “But I was more excited than nervous. I knew we would go out on the mat and kill it.”

Michigan Center competes on the way to its runner-up finish.The challenging routines led the way to the 771.04 winning score, which was close to the team’s season-best of 774.94, and much higher than its score at its Regional (740.38) and its season-average score (750.42).

Other returning all-state first-teamers for Hudson this winter were senior Cheyenne Eichler and juniors Rylie Bloomer and Victoria Hawkins. Seniors Ellie Bean, Shantzee Henderson and Isabella Moreno were second team all-state and junior Paige Clark was honorable mention in 2022.

Hudson’s roster was filled with upperclassmen, with seven seniors and seven juniors on the 19-athlete roster.

Emotions were all over the board for Hudson’s seniors, who never were outplaced by a Division 4 school in any competition during their four-year careers.

“I feel like I’m on top of the world and super sad at the same time,” said Eichler.

Gibraltar Carlson has the competitive cheer Finals record with six consecutive titles from 2011-16. Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (2014-18) and Rochester (1999-2003) both won five straight championships.

Michigan Center, which was up in Division 3 in 2022 and didn’t make the Finals, came back strong this winter and capped it with a runner-up trophy Thursday.

The Cardinals, who won the Cascades Conference and took second at their Regional behind Hudson, took second again at 745.20 points – just shy of their season-best of 745.94.

“I am so proud because these girls rose to a level today that they have not had all season,” said Michigan Center coach Jessica Trefry, who shares the head coaching duties with Bree Cash. “Hudson is an amazing team, but I can say that we brought our best today.”

Michigan Center, which has won five Finals championships, finished runner-up for the second time.

Adrian Madison (741.16) took third, followed by Hart (739.56) and Merrill (730.20).

Hudson, a small community in southeast Michigan with fewer than 3,000 residents, was for a long time best-known for its 72-game winning streak in football from 1968 to 1975.

But, no question, Hudson’s competitive cheer and wrestling programs have put the town back on the map.

“We feel the pressure to keep it going, for sure,” said Bailey, who is assisted by Lyndsi Bailey and Jacque Marry. “But the Finals is a little different, because once we’re here, we’re done learning and we’re done fixing.

“I told them just to go out there and have a blast.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Hudson is 16 athletes strong during this round of Thursday’s Division 4 Final. (Middle) Michigan Center competes on the way to its runner-up finish.

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.)