After Back to Back Runners-Up, Detroit Catholic Central Back on Top

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for

February 25, 2023

KALAMAZOO – The Detroit Catholic Central wrestling team had grown tired of being second best.

After two straight runner-up finishes, the Shamrocks (28-2) returned to the top in Division 1 after a 41-31 victory over Hartland at Wings Event Center on Saturday.

And what did Shamrocks coach Mitch Hancock do to motivate his team to finally get over the hump? 

He reminded them of their past shortcomings.

“The first day of practice I put a picture up of the runner-up trophy from last year all over the locker room,” Hancock said. “Over the water fountain, in front of the urinals, it was everywhere. They weren't too happy about it, so we left it up for a few months and then they got rid of it on their own.

“I think these guys were pretty disappointed the last two years, and we thought we were close.”

Senior Dylan Gilcher, a three-time individual champion who’s headed to Michigan next, wasn’t fond of his coach’s motivational tactic.

However, it provided all the inspiration they needed.

“It was horrible,” said Gilcher, who earned an 18-6 major decision at 150 pounds. “I mean, every time we went to the bathroom we were just staring at it. Every time we walked into the locker room. It was bad.

“Not only that, but it was my sophomore and junior years. It’s a feeling you never want to have again, especially after feeling it two years in a row. I think all of the returning guys worked really hard ourselves. The coaches didn’t have to push us as much because we wanted it ourselves as a team.”

Hancock credited his coaching staff for the diligent preparation.

“I didn’t have to do much,” he said. “Our staff is incredible, perhaps the greatest coaching staff in the state, and they had those guys ready to go.”

Hartland’s Dallas Korponic and the Shamrocks’ Michael Cannon work for leverage at 120.Gilcher said it was the perfect ending to his career, and it erased the frustration of falling short the past two years.

“It’s amazing to end like this because we couldn’t get it done my sophomore and junior year,” he said. “To go out with one is a great feeling. We are bringing it back home, and you have to love that.”

The Division 1 Final featured the top-ranked teams in the state.

Hartland (27-2), in search of its first Finals’ title since 2016, finished runner-up for the sixth time in program history.

The two programs had faced each other in early December, when DCC provided Hartland’s only other loss 47-15.

“We opened with CC to kind of see where we were at, and we tried to progress and grow so we could eventually win this in the end,” Eagles coach Kyle Summerfield said. “Obviously we came up short, but I am very proud of all the kids’ efforts from top to bottom.

“We competed in every match and we really did our very best, and you can't ask for anything more from the kids. I'm proud of them for that.”

DCC had won four consecutive Division 1 team titles from 2017-2020. The Shamrocks also captured three straight from 2012-2014.

“There’s a baseline that has been established with our program, but it’s not given to you just because you’re from CC,” Hancock said. “You have to work for it, and overall I’m just really excited for our community. The trophy is where it belongs now.”

Hartland tied the match early at 12-12 with a pin from Dallas Korponic at 120 pounds, but the Shamrocks seized control by winning five of the next six weight classes.

“(Hartland) competed really well, and they flipped a few matches from earlier in the year,” Hancock said. “He does a great job with that team, and that’s the best I’ve seen them compete. That’s a very good program.”

DCC got past fifth-seeded Romeo in the Semifinals 51-10, while Hartland earned a 38-28 win over Rockford. The Shamrocks opened with a Quarterfinal win over Warren De La Salle Collegiate, while the Eagles opened by edging Temperance Bedford 31-28.

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) DCC’s Clayton Jones, top, locks up with Hartland’s Gavin Kern at 144 pounds. (Middle) Hartland’s Dallas Korponic and the Shamrocks’ Michael Cannon work for leverage at 120. (Click for more from

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.)