Inspired Notre Dame Prep Runs Streak to 4
March 4, 2017
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half
GRAND RAPIDS – The Fight for Four took on a whole different meaning for the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep competitive cheer team this season.
While the Fighting Irish pursued a fourth straight Division 3 title Saturday night, the squad also was committed to honoring a 2013 graduate, Kristy Malter, who died last summer after suffering from bacterial meningitis.
Notre Dame Prep carried a sign proudly that read, “Fight for Four” with “4K” in the corner.
“We had one mission and one goal this year,” said Fighting Irish coach Beth Campbell. “We lost a girl over the summer to bacteria meningitis and she was one of our alumni so we decided then that the season was going to be 100 percent for her.
“You see us doing the 4K and that’s for Kristy. We kept our eyes focused on that and we wanted to represent our school, Kristy and her family. That was our main focus for the whole year.”
Miss Malter would’ve been proud of her former team, as it won the MHSAA Division 3 Final at Grand Rapids DeltaPlex with a narrow victory over rival Richmond.
The No.2-ranked Fighting Irish finished with a final score of 315.90, while the top-ranked Blue Devils tallied a 314.70.
It was Notre Dame Prep’s fourth consecutive MHSAA title.
“I’ve never been more proud of how these girls came out here,” Campbell said. “It was not one round; it was all three rounds. It was their best performance of the year, and I think they had the most heart I’ve ever seen out on that mat.
“We knew it was going to be a tough competition, but they were so determined to do this for Kristy. It was always our focus, and they knew that they had to give their best.”
Five Notre Dame Prep seniors capped their high school careers with four Division 3 championships: Sarah Nantel, Grace Mackey, Jennifer Redoutey, Caroline Hauck and Anne Seyferth.
“It was for Kristy this whole time, but I think we just wanted to prove to ourselves that we could be better than we were,” Nantel said. “It’s all about beating yourself and proving what other people thought wasn’t possible. We were going to be proud no matter the outcome, but we came out on top.”
The Fighting Irish won the first two rounds by the slimmest of margins over Richmond before the decisive Round 3.
“It felt so good to put our best on the floor, and we knew if we hit the way we know we could that whatever happens, happens, but I think we peaked today,” Redoutey said. “Today was our best day, and we showed a lot of heart. If we could make our parents, our alumni and our Kristy proud … that was the goal this season. All of this just makes it sweeter.”
Richmond, which won the Blue Water Area Conference, suffered another heartbreaking finish. It placed as Final runner-up for a third straight season.
The Blue Devils were poised for redemption, but a rare fall in Round 3 doused their hopes of regaining the crown they won in 2012 and 2013.
“The season has been a dream season,” Richmond coach Kelli Matthes said. “My kids have poured their hearts and souls into everything that they’ve done, and it’s not the outcome that we wanted, but when you make a mistake that’s what happens. And it doesn’t just fall on that one stunt group that had an issue, there were tiny things in each round.
“I have 37 girls on this team, and they are a family. They have been working at this for a really long time, and I just wish for them that it could’ve happened.”
Monroe Jefferson (772.62) took third after placing fourth a year ago, while Comstock Park (767.34) placed fourth. It was the Panthers’ fourth top-four finish at the Final in the past five seasons.
PHOTOS: (Top) Pontiac Notre Dame Prep performs Saturday night on the way to earning a fourth straight Division 3 title. (Middle) Richmond finished second for the third straight season.
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.
That 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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)