Buell Becomes 29th 4-Time Champ as Dundee Sets Finals Record
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
April 3, 2021
KALALAMZOO – Stoney Buell wasn’t exactly a secret as a freshman, already considered one of the state’s best as a top-seeded contender at his first Individual Wrestling Finals in 2018. He would go on to win his first championship on the same night as teammate Brandon Whitman would become the first in Dundee history to claim a fourth Finals title.
Three years later, Buell will be leaving high school wrestling with an even bigger stack of accomplishments, having more than justified those predictions of greatness.
Buell became the 29th wrestler in MHSAA history to claim a fourth Individual Finals championship Friday, earning the Division 3 title at 189 pounds at Wings Event Center. With Dundee’s fourth-straight team championship Tuesday, Buell also is now one of just three in state history to be part of four team and four individual Finals wins – joining 2020 Lowell grad Austin Boone and Davison legend Brent Metcalf, who accomplished the feat from 2002-05.
“I think it just kinda added a little bit to prove people wrong as a freshman – because people talk and it always adds a little bit of fuel,” Buell said. “Just to finally accomplish that goal that I’ve had for so long is unreal.”
Buell, who will continue at Purdue, capped his Dundee career with a 6-1 decision against Constantine senior Isaac Hall (33-2) after pins of 27 seconds, 37 seconds and 30 seconds to reach the finale.
He had won at 135 pounds as a freshman, 152 as a sophomore and 160 as a junior. He ended this shortened season 27-0 and with a career record of 160-15.
Buell also was joined by seven teammates winning titles Friday as Dundee set a Finals record with eight champions.
“I’m just beyond grateful that we got to be here right now,” Buell said. “A huge shout out to Wings Event Center, and just the sport of wrestling for allowing me to be able to wrestle right now, and be able to do it with a team that makes you better every day. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”
Champion: Kade Kluce, Dundee, Fr. (18-2)
Decision, 7-3, over Talan Parsons, Ovid-Elsie, Fr. (24-1)
With three champions graduating, Kluce is part of the next generation of Dundee contenders – and he’s off to the best-possible start.
Kluce handed Parsons his only defeat of the season in a matchup of standout freshmen.
“It was really important for me, my team, my family. I worked a long time for this,” Kluce said. “And it’s paid off.
“I definitely want to do it three more times.”
Champion: Braeden Davis, Dundee, Soph. (27-0)
Fall, 1:26, over Gavyn Merchant, Kingsley, Fr. (28-1)
Davis is halfway to matching Buell. And he’s blazing a similarly dominant trail.
Davis never wrestled past the second period this season, winning all of his matches by pin or tech fall including this finale to hand Merchant his only loss.
The championship followed Davis’ title at 103 a year ago.
“This year I felt more prepared and used to it,” he said. “Less nerves, and I’m used to going to big-level tournaments, so I guess it helped.
“I’m going to take a week off and I’m going right into freestyle training and getting ready for Fargo (Nationals).”
Champion: Kaden Chinavare, Dundee, Soph. (24-0)
Major Decision, 16-5, over Dominic Anguiano, Alma, Sr. (29-4)
Chinavare had placed third at 112 as a freshman and was ready to take his turn among the many Dundee champions over the last two seasons.
He entered as the top seed at this weight and opened with a technical fall and pin on the way to claiming that first title.
“All these guys, they train with me every day. We scrap in the wrestling room 24/7, and it feels great to finally win the first title,” he said. “It’s kinda what we work for in the room all season.”
Champion: Zachary Gibson, Lake Odessa Lakewood, Jr. (33-1)
Decision, 2-1, over Caeleb Ishmael, Coloma, Jr. (30-5)
Gibson jumped from finishing fifth at 103 as a freshman and fifth again at 112 last season to claim his first title. He scored a reversal in the third period and held on.
“After I got the two, I figured, I couldn’t turn the kid the first two periods … so just stay smart. State champ match, you’ve gotta stay smart,” Gibson said.
He gave Lakewood a champion at the Finals for the second straight season, after entering as the second seed at this weight and getting pins in his first two matches of the day.
“It’s really awesome, really sets an example for the rest of the guys,” Cooper said. “My team, they see me as an upperclassmen. They want to fight to get up there with me, and it’s awesome. I work with all the guys, all the underclassmen.”
Champion: Ryker Johnecheck, Williamston, Jr. (27-0)
Decision, 6-2, over Brock Holek, Durand, Sr. (25-4)
Both were making repeat appearances in a championship match, Johnecheck after winning 125 last year and Holek after coming in second at 130.
Holek defeated Johnecheck’s brother Camden 5-3 in a semifinal, setting up this clash.
“I’ve wrestled him at Districts and Regionals, and I know what he likes to do,” Ryker Johnecheck said. “I was just waiting for the opportunity, and I got the takedowns when I needed to, and it turned out with me on top.”
Williamston has produced its share of champions in the past, including a pair of the best-known in MHSAA history. Johnecheck became the Hornets’ first repeat champion since Andy Simmons won his fourth title in 2002.
“We’ve had a lot of guys coming up around my age,” Johnecheck said. “We brought five guys to states today; we’ve got five placers. It’s all a team. We push each other at practice, and it shows.”
Champion: Aiden Davis, Dundee, Soph. (27-1)
Decision, 5-1, over Jack Sherman, Millington, Sr. (28-1)
Davis had come up just short as a freshman, losing the championship match at 125 to Johnecheck on a last-second ultimate tiebreaker takedown last winter.
After this win he talked about always getting better, by baby steps or leaps and bounds. And he finished the season by making that next move and handing Sherman his only defeat.
“This was one was pretty sweet, because last year I lost in literally the last second,” Davis said. “So I felt like this one meant something to really get it.
“I knew I deserved it last year. This year I just had to prove that.”
Champion: Max Brown, Whitehall, Jr. (35-1)
Decision, 7-1, over Austin Fietz, Dundee, Sr. (23-4)
Brown made some noise when he started Tuesday’s Team Final against Dundee with a win over the top-seeded Fietz, a 2020 champion.
Then it was back to preparing for a possible rematch, as Brown was the second seed in this bracket. He lined up a pair of pins Friday to earn the opportunity.
“After our match Tuesday at team states, we went back to the practice room, we worked hard, we got a strategy and went out and executed the strategy,” Brown said. “I knew what to block for, what to look for, how to keep working the whole time.”
Brown had finished third at 130 as a sophomore and fourth at 125 as a freshman.
Champion: Casey Swiderski, Dundee, Jr. (28-0)
Major Decision, 20-7, over Dametrius Castillo, Alma, Sr. (29-5)
It seemed appropriate that Swiderski earned not only Dundee’s last championship of the day, but also the last win of the Division 3 meet – because after this weekend, the spotlight is sure to turn his way even more.
Swiderski will have the opportunity next year to join the prestigious group of four-time champs, with Friday’s Finals win at 145 adding to his past titles at 135 as a sophomore and 103 as a freshman.
He won his first three matches this time by pin before the major decision against Castillo, who was a champion as a freshman and runner-up as a junior.
“State titles are state titles. If my goal is this high, this is just a stepping stone to my goals – Division I college, NCAAs, all that,” Swiderski said.
“Getting that fourth (would be) awesome for the history. And being one of those guys, not many people get to do that. Not many people alone get (one) state title.”
Champion: Nick Dodman, Sanford Meridian, Sr. (31-5)
Decision, 9-2, over Nicholas Blanchard, Whitehall, Jr. (30-7)
Dodman became his school’s third Individual Finals champion, and first since 2014 – and also Meridian’s first non-heavyweight title winner.
He made good on his top seed Friday after previous Finals finishes of sixth at 140 and eighth at 135 as a junior and sophomore, respectively.
“I knew I could beat anyone in this bracket, and that mindset helped me do it,” Dodman said. “I’d wrestled a lot of them before, and I know nobody here has put in as many hours as me. I knew they didn’t stand a chance.”
Champion: Tyler Swiderski, Dundee, Sr. (27-1)
Decision, 7-2, over Connor Owens, Flint Powers Catholic, Soph. (24-1)
Friday’s win over the previously-undefeated Owens came at the opening weight for this year’s Finals and kicked off the Vikings’ record run of champions while also giving Swiderski his second-straight title to go with last year’s at 145.
Swiderski had opened his high school career with Individual Finals runner-up finishes at 112 as a freshman and 135 as a sophomore. And then the key to taking the next step clicked.
“Just to wrestle my matches like I do in practice and not overthink the whole tournament,” he said.
“I think (this year) was a lot better, just because I think I was a lot more free this year,” Swiderski added, comparing his first and second championships. “And it was my last season, so I thought it was very important.”
Champion: Dominick Lomazzo, Dundee, Sr. (23-3)
Decision, 7-4, over Randy Pyrzewski, Gladwin, Jr. (28-2)
Lomazzo capped his career with a second-straight championship, adding to the title he won at 152 a year ago.
This run certainly was different though, even if the end result was the same. Lomazzo, who earned a pin and then a major decision to start off Friday, did it all with an ankle injury he suffered during last week’s Regional Final.
But he fought through it to finish a career that included multiple team championships as well and a third place in Division 1 at 125 as a freshman wrestling for Detroit Catholic Central.
“I’m just really happy to be part of this team. These are all my best friends,” Lomazzo said. “It just feels great to finish it out on a bang and know that I did everything I could to finish it, and I got it done.”
Champion: Ira Jenkins, Whitehall, Jr. (38-0)
Fall, 0:44, over Ryan Osterland, Algonac, Sr. (31-2)
Jenkins arguably had the most dominating day of any Division 3 competitor Friday, with pins in 1:28, 1:46, 19 seconds and then 44 seconds in the finale to lock down a perfect season and his first championship.
He’d previously finished third at 152 in Division 3 as a freshman and fifth at 171 in Division 2 as a sophomore.
“I wanted to come into this tournament and dominate as best I could,” Jenkins said. “I wanted to get four pins all the way through – that was just my goal, I guess. I know there’s some things I could’ve done better, but I got it done.
“Coming off last year, a fifth-place finish wasn’t where I wanted to end up. So I went back to working and learned from that, and just kept improving. All the offseason work is paying off.”
Champion: Dan McKiernan, Richmond, Sr. (16-0)
Decision, 3-1, over Levi Harber, Montrose, Jr. (18-3)
The McKiernans can wrestle. There’s no doubt about that.
Dan finished his high school career Friday by becoming the fourth McKiernan brother to compete in an MHSAA individual championship match – and the second from his family to win one.
McKiernan earned a last-second takedown for the go-ahead points.
“We were both tired, got barely anything left by the end,” Dan McKiernan said. “I knew it’s not worth resting toward the end of the period, so I just thought I had to get and go.”
Jake McKiernan had won the Division 3 title at 189 pounds in 2014, while Jordan McKiernan was runner-up at 152 for Richmond in 2006 and Colton McKiernan was runner-up at 189 in 2017 and 215 pounds in 2018.
“I’m so proud of it. I love my family,” said Dan, who had taken fifth at 285 as a junior. “I’m hoping they’re happy.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Dundee’s Stoney Buell raises four fingers on each hand to the crowd signifying his fourth championship won Friday at the Division 3 Individual Wrestling Finals. (Middle) The Vikings’ Braeden Davis, right, works toward a win at 112. (Below) Lakewood’s Zachary Gibson, right, maintains control during his title match win at 125. (Click for more from 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.)