Notre Dame Prep Takes Final Cheer Step

March 1, 2014

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

GRAND RAPIDS – Redemption was sweet for the Pontiac Notre Dame Prep competitive cheer team.

The Fighting Irish finished runners-up at last year’s Division 3 Final, but topped the eight-team field Saturday at The DeltaPlex and collected the program’s first MHSAA title.

Notre Dame Prep, making its fifth appearance at the Finals, registered a three-round total of 764.04.

Comstock Park placed runner-up with a 759.68, while Grosse Ile (749.69) was third. Two-time reigning champion Richmond (735.46) finished fourth.

“This feels great because the kids have done nothing but work every minute for this since this time last year,” Notre Dame Prep coach Beth Campbell said. “They made up their minds that we were going to come back and win this year and they did just that. Once you get that close, you want the rest, and they were awesome.”

Notre Dame Prep senior Maggie Crowe said the team used last year’s narrow loss to Richmond as motivation.

“This is probably the best feeling I’ve ever experienced in all of high school,” Crowe said. “We worked our butts off for 10 months, and everything we wanted to come true came true today.

“To come close last year, it was a ridiculous source of drive. It was a fueling fire, and we remembered how that felt.”

Fellow senior Lauren Sadowski admired the shiny medal that signified the team’s major accomplishment.

“I’m at a loss for words right now of how amazing this feels to be able to look at this gold medal in my hand and know that it’s mine,” Sadowski said. “Everything we have in our school says, ‘runner-up’, and it is so gratifying to see that it is going to change to ‘state champs.”

Comstock Park recorded its fourth runner-up finish in the last seven years under longtime coach Kathy Felty. The Panthers won MHSAA titles in 2009 and 2011.

“The girls performed great today,” Felty said. “We had new uniforms and they looked awesome, and this was a very talented team with a lot of heart.

“People look and see them crying, but we’re happy with how we did and they’re crying because it’s the last time they will be able to do this with the group together.”

The push for the championship turned into a three-team race after the opening round.

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep tallied a score of 229.9 to grab the early lead, while Grosse Ile (226.5) and Comstock Park (226.4) were within striking distance.

“Our goal in Round 1 was to come out and set the tone,” Campbell said. “It was great to see us up three right after Round 1.” 

The Fighting Irish increased the advantage in Round 2, posting a high score of 223.84.

The Panthers recorded the second-highest score (220.88) and moved into second, while the Red Devils slipped to third. 

Comstock Park delivered a stirring Round 3 effort and scored a 312.4, putting the pressure squarely on Notre Dame Prep to duplicate.

The Fighting Irish responded with a 310.3 to secure the title. 

“I think we outscored everybody, but we just couldn’t make up that six points,” Felty said. “But we had three freshmen and a sophomore out there, so we’re happy about that.”

Click for full results. 

PHOTOS: (Top) New MHSAA Division 3 champion Pontiac Notre Dame Prep performs its Round 2 routine Saturday. (Middle) Comstock Park scored 312.4 points in Round 3 to finish runner-up. (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.)