Michigan Center Seniors Finish 4 for 4

March 1, 2014

By Dean Holzwarth
Special to Second Half

GRAND RAPIDS – Four years, four MHSAA championships.

Not a bad way to remember your high school career in competitive cheer.

Michigan Center seniors Paula Stone, Paige Rochefort and Sierra Sharrer always will have those memories after the trio helped their team win an unprecedented fourth consecutive MHSAA Division 4 Final on Saturday at the DeltaPlex.

The Cardinals recorded a three-round score of 745.12 and hung on to edge runner-up Merrill (743.12) by a mere two points. Hudson (734.52) finished a distant third.

Stone, Rochefort and Sharrer have been on the varsity all four years and contributed to each title.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Stone said. “It’s like everything you’ve ever worked for paid off. It didn’t really hit me until I got off the mat after Round 3. It just hit me, and I was like, ‘Wow’, this is the last time I’ll ever take the mat. I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

Michigan Center claimed last year’s Final with only one senior. A group of six seniors mixed with talented juniors and sophomores to produce another banner campaign.

The Cardinals won nine consecutive meets to cap the season. 

“I really wanted it for this group of seniors,” Michigan Center coach Jessica Trefry said. “Three of them have been on the other state championship teams, and they are a wonderful group of girls. I wanted this for them so badly.”

The fourth didn’t come without a few anxious moments.

Michigan Center built a sizable lead after two strong rounds. However, a bobble during its Round 3 routine put the outcome in doubt.

“They did their jobs in Rounds 1 and 2, but we faltered a little bit in Round 3,” Trefry said. “It made me nervous.”

Rochefort remained confident that the Cardinals would still prevail.

“I had faith in my team that we could clean it up at the end, and I was so glad that we still finished strong no matter what had happened,” she said. “We pulled it together, and we didn’t let it define us.”

Trefry said the team’s work ethic and determination factored into this year’s success. 

“It’s different every single year, but this group of girls were incredibly hard workers and very persistent with improving,” she said. “They were not afraid to be challenged, and I told them leading up to today that if you just go out and do your job like you’ve been doing all season, then you will win. I knew we had what it took.”

Merrill coach Courtney Schiller, whose team was making its sixth trip to the Finals, was equally elated with her team’s finish – the highest in school history at the MHSAA championship competition. 

The Vandals, who had the smallest team in Division 4 with only nine girls, placed fourth the past two years. They finally got over the hump and into the top two for the first time.

“We’ve never finished this high so we’re very excited about that, and we’re very excited about how close it was,” Schiller said. “We were two points from a state championship. We only have nine girls and we’re always one of the smallest teams here, so to see these girls excel the way they did today was thrilling.” 

Despite competing with only five girls in Round 3, Merrill delivered the highest score of the afternoon. A 298.1 put a scare into Michigan Center.

“We struggled a little bit at Regionals last week and came in fourth against teams that came in third and fourth today,” Schiller said. “To see them come out of a tough position at Regionals and come back from that today just makes me extremely proud. We wanted to have our best three rounds today, and we did.”

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Michigan Center performs its Round 1 routine during Saturday’s Division 4 championship run. (Middle) Merrill, here during Round 2, posted its highest MHSAA Finals finish. (Click for action and team photos from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.)