Bay City John Glenn Continues Climb, Seeking Next Step As Finals Contender

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

December 21, 2022

In each year of Matt Bishop’s time as head coach of the Bay City John Glenn wrestling program, the team has taken a step forward.

Bay & ThumbIt won the Bay County Championship in Year 1. Won a District championship in Year 2. Advanced to the Regional Final in Year 3, where it lost a tight dual against Gaylord. 

So, while the goal now of winning a Regional and earning the program’s first trip to the Division 2 Team Wrestling Finals may look more like a leap from the outside, it’s just another step to the Bobcats.

“We’ve had stepping stones the last four years,” junior captain Garett Forgash said. “It used to be the county tournament, then Districts, now it’s Regionals. Every time, we’re going to find that new stepping stone.”

John Glenn looks like a team poised to take that next step. The Bobcats are ranked No. 4 in Division 2, and already have another Bay County Championship and a dual victory against Gaylord under their belt this season.

They’re led by returning all-state finishers Forgash, who placed seventh a year ago, and sophomore Connor Greer, who was runner-up at 112 pounds and didn’t lose a match until the Final.

Seven other returnees were Regional qualifiers, including senior captains Lane Huizar – another Individual Finals qualifier – and Aidan Lupisella. 

But beyond that is a roster that has ballooned to 44 wrestlers and bought into what Bishop is preaching – work hard, focus on doing the right things on and off the mat rather than winning or losing, and success will eventually come.

“I think a lot of it has to do with our youth program, and them seeing our success, especially with winning Counties,” Lupisella said. “Every year, we’ve seen this steady little incline, and this year, we grew probably close to 20 kids. I think a big part is our success and the way we carry ourselves. I think people want to be around that. Everyone is attracted to success, and everyone is attracted to being classy. When people see that, they want to be part of it.”

John Glenn’s Garett Forgash (gray singlet) works toward a pin. That’s something Bishop and his coaching staff had to build. The former all-state wrestler came back to his alma mater as an assistant coach for the 2018-19 season, and took over as head coach the next year. 

Before John Glenn was taking any steps on the mat, steps were being taken behind the scenes to improve. That started with the school’s administration, which gave the Bobcats their own space to practice – including a locker room and daily transportation – at the district’s administration building. 

Bishop also has built a coaching staff he feels can help move his program forward. It includes Collin Webber, who he called one of the best young coaches in the state, and former Corunna coach Chad Briggs, who is coaching the middle school program. 

“Last year and this year, we’ve been able to grow that staff to about 10 guys; it’s been good,” Bishop said. “When you have some success, people tend to want to be a part of that program, and we’re starting to see that a little more in the last year or two. We had to build our middle school program. Our middle school numbers when I started were around 10 to 12 kids. Now, we’re close to 50.”

Then there’s the constant build of the program’s culture, which Bishop stresses above all else.

Lane Huizar establishes control during his match. “It’s really important for us to realize this is a high school sport, and keep that in perspective as much as we can,” he said. “We want to win. I’m probably as competitive as anyone out there. In order for us to do that at the highest levels, we have to not worry about winning and losing. … It’s hard, especially for kids that had a lot of success at a young age. But for us, it’s about competing a certain way, training a certain way, and letting the chips fall where they may.”

As those chips continue to fall in the Bobcats’ favor, Bishop and his staff have been able to focus more on some of the little things needed to help the program take its next step.

That includes hammering home the importance of getting – and not giving up – bonus points in a tight dual, and just generally dealing with the pressure that comes with that. Multiple discussions have had that focus over the past two years, as has John Glenn’s schedule, which has become much tougher as the team strives for bigger goals.

“When we got through Districts (in 2021), it was a nice celebration, and we felt good about ourselves,” Lupisella said. “At Regionals, I felt that maybe we didn’t put our best foot forward. We gave up a bunch of bonus points. I think what kind of moved us forward to be able to compete better was coaches talking to us every day and building our confidence. Telling us that we’re up there with the top teams. And the fact that we had gotten through the District and it was in our rearview mirror, we could now focus on the next step.”

The Bobcats aren’t taking anything for granted, but they also aren’t shying away from talking about taking that step and securing a trip Feb. 24 to Kalamazoo for Team Finals weekend. 

And recent history has shown that when a stepping stone is ahead, John Glenn finds a way to get there.

“It’s what we’ve been working for since I’ve been here, is going to the state team tournament,” Huizar said. “It’d be pretty awesome.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Bay City John Glenn’s Aidan Lupisella attempts to escape from the grasp of a Saginaw Swan Valley opponent. (Middle) John Glenn’s Garett Forgash (gray singlet) works toward a pin. (Below) Lane Huizar establishes control during his match. (Photos by Maddy Huizar.)

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 [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.)