With Another Big Finish, Delton Kellogg's Ferris Can Match Dad's Finals Feat
By Pam Shebest
Special for MHSAA.com
February 24, 2022
DELTON — Nearing the end of a stellar four-year wrestling career, Caden Ferris has just one complaint: Not enough mat time.
That is not a knock on his coach, but a nod at his record.
The Delton Kellogg senior will take a 45-0 record into next weekend’s MHSAA Division 4 Individual Wrestling Finals at Ford Field.
Of those wins, 32 came by pins with just one match making it to the second period. The other 13 were by forfeit.
Although he talks of “more mat time,” he will definitely take the pins as he works toward repeating at 215 pounds.
If that happens, he will become just the second wrestler in school history with two Individual Finals titles.
The other one? His dad, Rollie Ferris, who won in 1992 and 1993.
In fact, wrestling is the Ferris family’s legacy at Delton Kellogg.
Ferris’ brother, Tyden, was a two-time Finals runner-up (2016, 2018), and his uncle, Billy Ferris, has one championship (2001).
“It’s always been in the family, and I’ve always been going to my brother’s practices and tournaments,” said Caden Ferris, who started wrestling in sixth grade.
“I sometimes wrestle my brother in the backyard, but not a lot. He’s four years ahead of me.”
Wrestling his dad has a different spin.
“He tried once. It didn’t work out in his favor,” he added laughing.
During his freshman year, Ferris posted a 36-19 record, and those losses fueled his desire to win even more.
His sophomore season he improved to 38-3, and last year, 33-2. Total, he’s 152-24 heading into his final weekend of high school competition.
Following a familiar path
Rollie Ferris began wrestling in third grade, but honed his skills early, growing up on a farm with five brothers.
“We’re just always competitive,” he said. “When I had the chance to start wrestling in third or fourth grade, it was just a natural for me.
“I always enjoyed competing, then you get your hand raised, and then you get medals. It was awesome.”
Rollie Ferris’ journey did not start out “awesome.”
“My very first time wrestling (as a third grader), I got thrown on my back in a headlock by a kid I didn’t know at the time,” he recalled. “I was crying.”
His skills improved immensely from that first pin to his two Finals titles in high school.
Although he attended Central Michigan University on a football scholarship, he wrestled for coach Tom Borrelli for two of those years.
Borrelli is still coaching at CMU, where Tyden is a senior on the football team.
Because of that connection, “I’ve always been up at CMU and wrestling with them and getting to know the coaches since I was real little,” Caden Ferris said.
So when Coach Borrelli called to offer his son a four-year wrestling scholarship, “I was in awe because I know that wrestling doesn’t always get all that,” Rollie Ferris said. “Caden was offered before he even got a state championship last year.”
Having Ferris on the Delton Kellogg team is a tremendous asset, coach Dan Phillips said.
“You can always count on six (points) from him when he goes on the mat.” he said. “He’s a great leader on our team and vocal on the bench.
“He’s a pretty good physical specimen. He’s tall, he’s strong, he’s lanky. He’s well-coordinated. He’s very athletic.”
As for so many pins, “He’s relentless. If you make a mistake on the mat, he’ll capitalize on it. Plus he’s strong.
“The kids aren’t trying to get pinned. They can’t help it. That’s his attitude when he gets out there. He’s going to take them down and pin them. There’s no question about that. That’s his attitude.”
Full family effort
With several young, inexperienced wrestlers on the team, Phillips said this is a rebuilding year.
While the Panthers did not qualify for Team Regionals, four other wrestlers competed individually including junior Joelle White (110) in the MHSAA’s first-ever girls tournament. Junior Gage Vincent (119) will join Ferris at Ford Field.
To prepare, Ferris has followed his dad’s advice.
“I do a lot of running, bike, weight training, a lot of mat time, drilling with anybody I can find to throw around,” he said.
“I’m wrestling seven days a week including Grand Rapids, with all sorts of coaches.”
His dad said that takes a lot of dedication.
“I’m extremely proud of him, not only for the wins but he wants to put the work in,” he said.
“We live in Delton, which is an hour to anything so you have to be willing to be in the car and go places to do things. He’s willing to do all that.”
Caden Ferris’ mother, Marie, has been witness to it all.
“I call her my kids’ free agent,” Rollie Ferris said. “She’s just out there pushing for them, talking to people and setting up stuff constantly.
“She’s been with me since I was 16, so she watched both me win state twice and Billy win.”
She has also been there to cheer on her sons and daughter, Faith, in their sports endeavors.
One thing their father has learned is “not to be mat side with them so much,” he said. “The coaches do a good job with them.
“I’ve learned with my three kids to let other people coach. I want to be their dad, although I still probably am a little bit more intense than I should be.”
Once his son graduates in the spring, there will be a lull in the Ferris family wrestling tradition at Delton Kellogg until Rollie’s nephew Mason gets to high school. A sixth grader, Mason is also a wrestler.
For Caden Ferris, before the pomp of graduation, there are a few hurdles to face to go with next week’s big opportunity.
Rollie Ferris knows, in spite of his son’s success, nothing is guaranteed.
“As a dad, I’m always nervous there’s somebody in the closet that we don’t know,” he said. “Just like I tell these kids all the time, to be somebody, you’ve got to beat somebody.
“If I’m somebody out there wanting to wrestle Caden, if I’m his dad, I’m telling him we’ve got to beat this kid. He’s gonna be sitting up there not hungry. He’s got to beat the guy in the mirror.”
Pam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Delton Kellogg’s Caden Ferris, in maroon, works to control his opponent during last season’s Division 4 championship match at 215 pounds. (2) Caden Ferris and his father Rollie Ferris. (3) Panthers coach Dan Phillips. (4) Caden Ferris holds up his chart during last season’s medal ceremony. (Action shots by HighSchoolSportsScene.com; head shot by Pam Shebest.)
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.
That 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 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 [email protected] 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.)