Southgate Anderson Seniors Key 3-Peat

March 1, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

GRAND RAPIDS – When Southgate Anderson’s seniors were sophomores two years ago, they played huge roles in the Titans winning their first MHSAA competitive cheer championship.

And because those sophomores already acted like seniors even then, coach Colette Norscia felt pretty confident that title was only a start.

Her hunch was correct. That group of seven athletes, now seniors, led Anderson to its third straight MHSAA title Friday at the DeltaPlex,

The Titans scored 785.96 points, 2.42 more than runner-up Grandville after both trailed Rochester Hills Stoney Creek by three tenths of a point after Round 1.

“We’ve been cheering together since we were really little, and we stuck with it all through these years,” Anderson senior Holly Zmijewski said. “We just want to prove who we are, and that we don’t go backward. We just keep going forward.”

But it took a little kick to get the Titans rolling again.

Anderson competes in the Downriver League, which also includes reigning Division 2 champion Gibraltar Carlson and Finals qualifiers Allen Park and Trenton. The Titans finished second at their league competition, four points back of Carlson, which is nothing to scoff but disappointed those seniors nonetheless.

But it also brought perspective to underclassmen who weren’t yet part of the program prior to this championship run.

Norscia knew walking into the DeltaPlex on Friday that her team was prepared every possible way.

“It’s hard to get it, but it’s harder to keep it every year,” Norscia said. “The kids, once they have it, not all of them are so gung-ho about keeping it, working to that level, and I think we got scrutinized a little bit more as well.

“Those sophomores on the team that first year we won, they were strong and carried us through,” she added. “They learned a lot from that senior group, and they’ve been teaching each group that comes in. Our next two classes are just as strong, and actually our eighth grade group is incredible.”

All seven seniors – Marisa Laginess, Madison Small, Zmijewski, Jacklyn Carrico, Haley Evans, Aleta Madera and Brittany Walton – earned all-state honors as juniors.

Stoney Creek set the pace with a 235.20 to lead Round 1. But Anderson posted the highest Round 2 score in Division 2 this season and put up a 231.46 on Friday, two points better than both Stoney Creek and Grandville.

Grandville responded with a strong 319.20 in Round 3. But that was bested by only Anderson, by four tenths of a point.

“It’s hard to have to go out there three times, and have to peak three times, and we did,” Grandville coach Julie Smith-Boyd said. “We weren’t playing defense. … We were going for it. We wanted to win.

“But when you’re a senior, or even for any of these girls, we want them to go out just feeling great about it. They gave their all, did their best, and it was that way every single round. We’re just really proud of them.”  

The Bulldogs improved from eighth at the 2012 Final to fourth last season to second and have only six seniors – including only two in Round 2, and with a couple freshmen who contributed in Round 3.

A pair of sad circumstances – two athletes’ mothers died during the fall after fights with breasts cancer – bonded the team as it took another giant step.

“These girls just really bonded together really tight, pulled together and supported each other through the whole thing. And I really felt that made them stronger at the end,” Smith-Boyd said. “Because we said, what we’ve been through was far worse than we have to go out there and do. We made it through that; we can do this. 

“We did it the best we could do it. Southgate obviously did too.”

Macomb Dakota ascended from seventh after Round 1 to finished third in the final standings. Lake Orion, eighth after Round 1, came in fourth in its return to the Finals after missing last season. 

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Southgate Anderson performs its Round 3 routine Friday at the DeltaPlex. (Middle) Grandville, this season’s runner-up, improved from fourth place in 2013. (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

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.)