Superior Round 3 Clinches P-W Title Win

March 2, 2019

By Tom Kendra
Special for Second Half

GRAND RAPIDS – Pewamo-Westphalia senior Kelsey Russell wiped away her happy tears and summed up the greatest afternoon of her life. 

“That is the best Round 3 we’ve ever had,” said Russell, a first-team all-state selection last year. “We nailed all of our stunts, and we needed every single point.”

Actually, every tenth of a point.

Pewamo-Westphalia sat in third place entering Saturday’s final round, but a final performance to remember helped the Pirates leap past Sanford Meridian and Hudson and capture a thrilling Division 4 Finals championship at the raucous Delta Plex.

The Pirates finished with a three-round total of 780.42, edging 2018 champion Hudson by less than four tenths of a point in one of the narrowest wins in MHSAA Finals history.

Sanford Meridian led entering the final round, but had to go first in Round 3 and struggled. At that point, both Hudson (in second place) and P-W (third) gained extra motivation, knowing a great final round could produce the championship.

P-W went sixth and delivered a season-best Round 3 score of 320.30, which produced a thunderous roar from the Pirates’ faithful, who sensed their team might have just won their ninth cheer Finals championship and first since 2010.

“We had an amazing final round,” said 12th-year coach Staci Myers, who also led P-W to titles in 2008 and 2010 along with five runner-up finishes. “We have two major flip-over stunts in that round that the girls hit perfectly each time. They came through at the right time.”

That just left Hudson, which was the final team to go in Round 3.

The Tigers, four-time Finals runners-up before last year’s win, made a run at the title themselves. Despite a roster with just three seniors, Hudson calmly put down a stellar Round 3, which had everyone on the edge of their seats awaiting the final scores.

“I feel great right now, honestly, because we did the best we could,” said Hudson coach Kelly Bailey, in her 22nd year, shortly after the final scores were announced.

On this day, the celebration belonged to the Pirates, who hugged and cried in each other’s arms after they learned of their razor-thin victory.

“I was speechless when they announced Hudson second and we were the only team left,” said P-W senior flyer Olivia Ferguson. “We were confident going into the final round. That’s always been our best round and we practiced it so much, we knew we just had to go out and nail it one more time.”

The Pirates, who do not compete in a conference but won District and Regional titles leading up to the Finals, produced a three-round 780.42, more than 16 points better than their previous season-best score of 764.16. 

Russell and Ferguson are two of five seniors on the P-W roster, with the others being Esmeralda Gonzalez, Amalie Hilligsoe and Cierra Van Ells.

Pewamo was one of the early state powers in cheer, winning five championships during the 1990s and early 2000s under coach Sherry Fedewa, who is still an assistant coach.

This title was especially sweet for Myers, whose daughter, Halie Myers, is a freshman on the team.

“It’s been nine years since we’ve won state, and it was our ninth overall state championship,” said Myers, who is assisted by Amber Weber, Olivia Nurenberg and Fedewa. “We’ve always been like a family, but it’s extra special because I do have a daughter on the team.”

Sanford Meridian ended up finishing fourth, as Adrian Madison moved into third with the meet's third-best Round 3. Michigan Center placed fifth overall, followed by Breckenridge, Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian and Munising.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS: (Top) Pewamo-Westphalia earned its first MHSAA Finals cheer championship since 2010 on Saturday. (Middle) Hudson performs a routine on the way to finishing runner-up.

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.)