Brighton Claims 1st Title vs. Familiar Foe
February 28, 2015
By Dan Stickradt
Special for Second Half
BATTLE CREEK — Lee Grabowski must have felt the weight of the world on his shoulders Saturday night.
With his team leading 28-25 heading into the final match at 112, the Brighton sophomore posted a 4-2 victory over a rival who had defeated him twice this season.
Not only was the victory significant for Grabowski, but it resulted in the final points in Brighton’s 31-25 victory over Hartland in the MHSAA Division 1 Final at Kellogg Arena.
The team title was the first for Brighton, which was making its first-ever appearance in the championship match.
“We kind of thought with a few matches to go that it could come down to Grabowski’s match,” admitted Tony Greathouse, Brighton’s second-year coach. “We knew that he could do it. What a way for a sophomore to go in there and beat a kid who had beaten him earlier this season. With that pressure, he stepped up and (delivered). We did not want it to go down to (criteria) points.”
Grabowski lost to Hartland’s 112-pounder by one and three points, respectively, this season in Kensington Lakes Activities Association North competition.
“I knew I could beat him. It’s not like he beat me by all that much (earlier),” smiled Grabowski. “The last time he beat me by a point, so I had to stay on top of him.
Brighton (29-1) lost a point three matches earlier for unsportsmanlike conduct. If the meet would have ended in a 28-28 draw, Hartland would have won on the criteria.
Grabowski and the Bulldogs didn’t leave that for chance.
Brighton, ranked No. 1 in the state the whole season, had taken down Hartland in their previous meetings this season, defeating the third-ranked Eagles (31-4) by a 38-18 count in mid-January. The Bulldogs also defeated Hartland at the KLAA Championships.
Brighton walked into Kellogg Arena with 10 senior starters, but the platform for a title run had long since been put into place. The Bulldogs also had plenty of motivation, losing to Hartland in last year’s District Final.
“I think looking back on that day, we had plenty of motivation for this season — no doubt,” noted Greathouse. “With all of the seniors we have on this team, they talked about coming back this season and contending for a state championship. They stepped up this season and accomplished that goal.
“But it just didn’t happen overnight,” continued Greathouse. “I have only been here for two years. I like to think that I have helped. But Sam Amine was here for 10 seasons before and he really laid the foundation for all of this, getting Brighton to become such a strong program. We have only added to it. The kids on this team put in all of the hard work to make this possible.”
Brighton opened this season with a convincing victory over three-time reigning Division 1 champion Detroit Catholic Central, and the Bulldogs took over the top spot in the rankings right after that signature win.
On the other side, Hartland, one of Michigan’s most successful wrestling programs over the past quarter century, claimed its fifth runner-up trophy. The Eagles made their 14th straight trip to the Quarterfinals and 16th total in 23 seasons.
This also marked Hartland’s 11th Semifinal appearance since 2004.
“It does hurt now,” sighed Hartland coach Todd Cheney, who took over the program in 1993. “I know we have a lot coming back next season with only two senior starters. But we came close again. We lost a couple of matches that we could have won and won a couple of other swing matches. But you have to win more matches at the state finals and Brighton won eight of them.”
Brighton led 12-0 after three matches, only to see Hartland go on a 22-0 run for a 22-12 advantage through eight weight classes.
A technical fall win from Beau Mourer (171) and a void victory from Nick Brish (189) put Brighton back up 23-22 with four matches to go — and the Bulldogs never relinquished the lead.
PHOTO: Brighton and Hartland wrestlers grapple for position during Saturday’s Division 1 Final. (Click to see more at HighSchoolSportsScene.com.)
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.)