Bullock Creek's Brooks Turns Heartbreak Into Motivation
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
December 9, 2021
It didn’t take long for Peyton Brooks to turn disappointment into motivation.
This past spring, he was undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Division 3 at 152 pounds, but on the day before the Regional tournament, the Bullock Creek star had his junior season cut short because of a positive COVID-19 test on the team.
“I got home, and I was kind of disappointed and I was really down on myself for about a day,” Brooks said. “I saw no point in feeling that way, so I actually started using that feeling to better myself for the next year.”
It’s now next year, and Brooks – a Finals runner-up in 2020 – is focused on putting himself in a position to finish what he started and reach the top of the podium.
“I think I’ve been putting a little bit of extra work in, going harder in practice,” he said. “I want to make sure I do everything right. I know it’s my senior year, and it’s my last chance to win a state championship, so I want to do everything to make sure that happens.”
Brooks seemed to have done all he could a year ago, as well. He was 24-0 through the Individual District, and had helped lead Bullock Creek to its first Team District title in 10 years. In the District Final, he defeated Sanford Meridian’s Nick Dodman 5-2. Dodman went on to win the Individual Finals title at 152.
But as the Lancers were going through their final day of preparation for the Individual Regional, one team member’s rapid test came back positive. The timing meant there was no way for Brooks, or his teammates who were close contacts, to get cleared.
“Last year was a crazy year all the way around,” Bullock Creek coach Alan Curtis said. “There were a lot of other teams that got hit earlier in the season than we did. We just happened to catch it at the end of the season. It’s kind of like everybody was waiting for it to happen, but hoping it didn’t. There’s really not much you can say, and it’s really nobody’s fault. It is what it is. We kind of looked at every option we had to get him down there, but when it came down to it, our hands were tied.”
While Brooks was disappointed in how things ended, he remained positive about the season.
“Personally, I was just happy to have a season,” he said. “We started two or three months late – we started in February when the postseason would normally be – so I tried not to take any meet or anything for granted. I felt like I had a chance of not being able to compete at all.”
Not taking things for granted is something Brooks has carried into this winter. His work ethic has always been exemplary, Curtis said, but there is an added focus as Brooks prepares for his final wrestling season.
“Right from the first practice of the season, he stays after every practice – he gets guys to stay after and work with him,” Curtis said. “He goes through our whole practice, then he stays after another half hour with whoever he can get.”
Wrestling isn’t the only thing Brooks excels at, as he also was a standout running back and linebacker for the Bullock Creek football team. He said he’s keeping his options open in terms of playing at the next level, as he hasn’t decided which sport he will continue. Playing both, though, has been a benefit.
“I think they both helped me in both sports,” said Brooks, who also is a sprinter on the track team. “I think wrestling has helped me more with football. It’s made me a better athlete with my work ethic, athleticism, balance, speed and footwork. It’s really made me a better player.”
With his focus on football through the fall, there is the challenge of getting down to weight for Brooks. He plays at about 180 pounds on the gridiron but plans to wrestle at 160 for the majority of this season. A drop to 152 also isn’t out of the question.
“He’s one that I never have to worry about his weight,” Curtis said. “He knows what he needs to do, and he doesn’t starve himself. He does it the right way. He works out on his own at home. His work ethic is phenomenal.”
No matter the weight Brooks comes in at, he figures to be among the favorites to win an individual title. If he’s able to pull it off, he admitted the combination of it being his senior year and the events of a year ago would make it that much more special.
His coach agreed.
“I think it would be amazing,” Curtis said. “He doesn’t normally show a lot of emotion, but I think that would get to him, because he’s worked so hard.
“He should have had it last year. I don’t know if he feels like he was robbed, but he knows he should have won it last year. That’s going to give that extra drive this year to get it done.”
Paul 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) Midland Bullock Creek’s Peyton Brooks, far right, raises his hand signifying a win last winter. (Middle) Brooks attempts to bring down an opponent during the 2020 Individual Finals. (Photos provided by the Bullock Creek wrestling program.)
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.)