Clinton Finishes Chase for 1st Title
February 29, 2020
By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half
KALAMAZOO – Last year when Clinton wrestling co-coach Jeff Rolland walked off the mat after the Division 4 Team Final, he said, “Until someone beats them, they are the one everyone in chasing.”
“They” are the Hudson Tigers, who had just beaten Rolland's up-and-coming Clinton team to win their third-straight Division 4 title.
So Rolland and his Redskins went back to work during the offseason, recalling how they felt wrestling for a championship only to come up short against a program that is comfortable on that stage.
Spin it forward one year, and Clinton found itself back on the big stage against the Tigers, and that hard work and self-confidence paid off. This time, Clinton beat Hudson 36-27 on Saturday at Wings Event Center, clinching the first team wrestling championship in Redskins history.
"This took us believing in each other as a family," Rolland said. "We believe this program is a family, (kindergarten through 12th grade), to the parents and the community, and this took us digging down and focusing on who we are – focusing on us."
That focus was tested even before this weekend began, as top-ranked Clinton entered Friday’s Quarterfinals as the third seed in Division 4.
The Redskins then had to go through a very tough New Lothrop team in the Semifinals to get to Hudson.
"We felt we had enough. We just had to come and compete and prove it," Rolland said. "We took on the mantra that it was us against everybody. Until we prove, we are going to get the three seed, we are going to get the hardest matches. And we said good."
But it wasn't all good for the Redskins, especially early.
Starting at the 119-pound weight class, Hudson jumped out to an 18-0 lead through the first four matches, thanks to a pair of pins from Caden Natale at 130 and CJ Berro at 135 and a pair of decisions from Tyler Bolenbaugh and Jackson Miller at 119 and 125, respectively.
But then came the strength of Clinton's lineup, and the Redskins went on to win eight of the next nine weight classes to earn their first team title.
During that stretch, the Redskins got technical fall victories from AJ Baxter, Kent McCombs and Brayden Randolph and a pair of pins from Logan Badge and Jack Voll.
Badge said his team was not too worked up by being down so much early.
"We were still confident in ourselves," said Badge, a returning Individual Finals champion. "We knew our capabilities, knowing we were able to score and get bonus points when we needed."
Hudson coach Scott Marry was proud of his team, even though it fell short of the goal it sets for itself every season.
"They are very tough," Marry said of Clinton. "I thought everything went well. We wrestled a very good dual. We had our opportunities, and that is all you can ask for. You have to give them credit. I'm not going to say anything bad that we did. I'm just going to say they did better."
PHOTOS: (Top) A Clinton wrestler works for control on top while his Hudson opponent goes for a foot during Saturday’s Division 4 Final. (Middle) Clinton and Hudson wrestlers work to gain control. (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.)