Clinton Joins Elite Group of Mat Champs
March 19, 2020
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Team wrestling has become the most difficult MHSAA sport for new contenders to break into the championship elite.
From 2010-19, 10 schools combined to win the 40 Finals championships over four divisions. Divisions 2, 3 and 4 all saw a decade’s worth of titles split between just two teams.
In Division 4, Hudson or New Lothrop had won actually the last 11 Finals championships before this season. Those two teams arrived at Wings Event Center last month again as the top two seeds, respectively, in Division 4.
And that might have made the victory march by third seed Clinton – the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” for February – even more memorable, if that’s possible.
Clinton defeated New Lothrop 32-26 in its Semifinal on Feb. 29 and came back a few hours later to defeat the Tigers 36-27 to clinch its first Finals championship in the sport – and first MHSAA Finals championship in any boys sport in school history.
The Redskins finished this season 31-5 in dual matches.
“These 28 kids get that forever, no matter what happens in their lifetime,” said Clinton co-coach Jeff Rolland, who finished his seventh season and second running the program with Casey Randolph. “(It’s) something they get to have together as a group.”
Clinton had been building to this. The Redskins advanced to Wings with their fifth Regional title over the last seven seasons. They reached the cusp of school history a year ago, wrestling in the title-deciding match for the first time before finishing Division 4 runners-up with a 45-19 loss to the Tigers.
This time, Clinton brought 13 Individual Finals qualifiers to Kalamazoo – and they went on to fare well again the following weekend at Ford Field. Nine of the 13 reached the podium with top-eight places at their weights in Detroit.
Sophomore Logan Badge won his second individual championship and finished a 37-0 run with the title at 189. Junior Brayden Randolph (171) and sophomore Kent McCombs (145) were individual runners-up at their weights, Randolph for the second-straight season. Freshman Connor Busz (third at 103), sophomore Chase Packard (eighth at 112), sophomore George Ames (third at 135), junior Spencer Konz (third at 160), junior Jack Voll (sixth at 215) and junior Will Felts (sixth at 285) also placed.
Clinton had entered the 2019 Team Finals weekend as the top seed in Division 4 on the way to finishing runner-up, and actually finished No. 1 in Division 4 in the final Michigan Grappler rankings this winter before ending up with the third seed.
“I guess that’s the key – you want to be the number three seed in Division 4. Hudson did it last year (and won),” Rolland said. “Bottom line, the top four teams (in Division 4) were even. I think all of the coaches said that. (The three seed) might have helped our kids refocus.”
Past Teams of the Month, 2019-20
January: Caro girls basketball - Report
December: Hartland girls basketball - Report
November: Bridgman girls cross country - Report
October: Allegan boys tennis - Report
September: Ishpeming Westwood girls tennis - Report
PHOTOS: (Top) Clinton teammates and coaches congratulate Connor Busz after his win at 103 pounds against Hudson on Feb. 29 that clinched the Division 4 team championship. (Middle) The Redskins celebrate their first Finals title. (Click to see 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 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.)