'Bigger, Stronger, Faster' Greenville Climbing Among Wrestling's Elite
By Dean Holzwarth
Special for MHSAA.com
January 19, 2023
GREENVILLE – Several factors have contributed to the current success of the Greenville wrestling team.
However, one aspect of the program has been quite noticeable.
“I’ve received compliments by referees and other coaches just about how much bigger, stronger and faster they look now,” Yellow Jackets wrestling coach Brett Peterman said. “Greenville athletics, and the culture with Rick Court and our strength program, has changed. He has done an amazing job of getting the kids into lifting, and we have a great coaching staff."
“A lot of the sports are getting better now because of it, and our strength programs are loaded with kids now lifting, including at the middle school level.”
The Yellow Jackets recently jumped into the top 10 of the Division 2 state rankings after winning their fifth invitational of the season last week at Hudsonville Unity Christian.
An enhanced strength program, coupled with a diligent work ethic by a relatively young group, has signaled a turnaround for the better.
“We just have a great group of kids,” Peterman said. “The kids are coachable, they work hard and we are just seeing the results of that.”
Junior standout Nayte Dobson, who’s currently unbeaten at 24-0 wrestling at 157 and 165 pounds, said Court is a valuable piece to the winning puzzle that has been constructed.
“He always has good enthusiasm and good energy no matter what,” said Dobson, who placed seventh at last year’s Division 2 Individual Finals.
“He gives us time to work out, whether it’s zero hour, or after school. Whenever you want to work out, he’s there. He will come from his house to unlock the doors.”
Court’s workouts are specifically designed to help the wrestlers reach their full potential and give them an advantage.
“He puts us through good workouts that involve speed and acceleration training,” Dobson said. “You can definitely see the bursts we have out on the mat.”
The list of accomplishments so far this season has included wins at the Greenville Invitational, the Hudsonville Invitational, the Unity Christian Invitational, the Fruitport Invitational and the Pinckney Duals.
“There have been some good teams in those tournaments and good challenges for the kids,” Peterman said. “Winning is good, but the work never stops.”
Peterman anticipated success this season, despite the departure of key seniors.
The addition of a large incoming freshman class has boosted numbers and anticipation for the future.
“I thought we could have a good year,” Peterman said. “We had a lot of returners, including a few state qualifiers and some who fell just short.
“They worked hard in the offseason, and with the freshmen coming in, I figured we would be pretty good. I was amazed that we had 23 freshmen come in. That’s a big group.”
The Yellow Jackets possess talent up and down the weight classes, with several wrestlers posting impressive records.
Sophomore Caleb Lewis, a backup last season, has emerged and is 26-0 at 106 pounds.
Other top performers include junior Liam Dailey (23-2) at 138/144 pounds, sophomore Case Johnson (24-2) at 215 pounds, sophomore Kamden Witte (23-3) at 113 pounds and freshman Alex Buskirk (26-1) at 126 pounds.
“We are a very young team, but they’ve come in with a chip on their shoulder and they are working hard every day,” Dobson said. “How they work in the wrestling loft is showing out on the mat right now, and we are just giving them guidance and helping them out when we can.
“I expected this, and I knew this was going to be a good year for us because of the guys coming back and the freshmen.”
The Yellow Jackets will wrestle at the Ottawa-Kent Conference White championships, against a field that includes eight-time reigning team champion Lowell.
“It’s tough when you have a powerhouse like Lowell in your conference,” Peterman said. “There’s a possibility that we will see them several times in the upcoming weeks, and it will be a big challenge. We are going to do what’s right for the team on Friday and see how the results come about.”
The Red Arrows provide Greenville with a measuring stick, and they are eager to see how they fare against the best in the state.
“Lowell is just stacked all around and it’s going to be tough, but we also have to get through Byron Center, which has gone both ways this season,” Dobson said. “If we can see improvement from last year’s Districts to now against Lowell, then it gives us a good checkpoint of where we are at.”
Dean Holzwarth has covered primarily high school sports for Grand Rapids-based WOOD-TV for five years after serving at the Grand Rapids Press and MLive for 16 years along with shorter stints at the Ionia Sentinel and WZZM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Allegan, Kent and Ottawa counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Greenville wrestler Isaac Daily celebrates a win during a match this season. (Middle) Yellow Jackets coach Brett Peterman guides one of his competitors. (Below) Greenville's Troy Courtney takes down an opponent. (Photos by Jamie McNinch Photography.)
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@example.com 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.)