Clio's Williams Caps Season of All Wins, All by Pin, with Finals Victory
By Scott DeCamp
Special for MHSAA.com
March 5, 2023
DETROIT – Khloe Williams wasted no time securing her second career state championship during Saturday’s MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals at Ford Field.
It took the Clio senior only 30 seconds to post a victory by pinfall over Kalamazoo Loy Norrix sophomore Heaven Cole in the 170-pound title match.
All four of Williams’ victories this weekend resulted in pinfalls that took a minute or less. In fact, all 32 of her matches this season resulted in wins by pinfall.
“I just wanted to do that this year. I just wanted to pin everyone,” said Williams, who won a Michigan Wrestling Association state title as a freshman, finished second in MWA as a sophomore and then runner-up again in last year’s MHSAA Tournament.
Immediately following her victory over Cole (14-2) on Saturday, Williams stopped long enough to conduct an interview, but she had places to be. Two mats over from hers, a Clio teammate was vying for a Finals title of his own.
“I was trying to watch Jacob,” she said about Clio senior Jacob Marrs, who was wrestling in the Division 2 190-pound final as Williams wrapped up her match against Cole.
Marrs lost a 4-2 heartbreaker in his championship match.
Williams and Marrs have known each other a long time and they’re cut from the same cloth, according to Clio coach Tony Vance.
He said Williams tends to be businesslike, and that she’s very talented – but she also puts in the work.
“Her and my 190-pounder (Jacob Marrs), I mean, they’re both very technical wrestlers and they grew up wrestling since they were 5, 6 years old, and they’ve been around each other for a long time,” Vance said.
Would you believe that wrestling isn’t necessarily Williams’ favorite sport? She’s been wrestling for 13 years. She followed in older brother Kam’s footsteps. He was a Finals runner-up in high school.
Softball is No. 1 for Khloe Williams now, however. She intends on playing it at Mott Community College.
Williams plays center field, showing that in addition to her prowess on the mat she can also cover some ground in the outfield.
When asked if it would be difficult to give up a sport like wrestling in which she’s had so much success, she just shrugged.
“Kind of, a little bit,” she grinned.
“She’s very humble. She just comes in the room and works hard – doesn’t really have much to say. She’s there every day. She puts her work in,” Vance said.
“That comes from her family. She comes from a very hard-working family. Her dad was a very good wrestler in high school, her brother was a state finalist in high school, so … she’s been around wrestling since she was 5 years old.”
Champion: Madison Nieuwenhuis, Plainwell, Fr. (34-7)
Decision, 4-3, over Mackenzie Burger, Mount Pleasant, Sr. (26-12)
Nieuwenhuis was dealing with a few broken bones in her left foot, but she wasn’t thinking about any kind of pain. As for thousands of eyeballs watching her from the stands, that was more stressful for her.
She suffered the injury a few weeks ago in practice.
“It was definitely nerve-racking,” she said. “Not as bad yesterday, but seeing all the people just right there watching you and you’re in the middle mat – it was definitely nerve-racking, but it also raised my spirits.”
Champion: Nakayla Dawson, Westland John Glenn, Fr. (41-2)
Fall, 3:33, over Natalie Gibson, Remus Chippewa Hills, Soph. (25-6)
Posting 41 victories in a freshman wrestling season is quite a feat. It’s almost as impressive as capturing a state title in one’s first year in high school.
Dawson accomplished both of those things.
“I just went out there and did me – didn’t really worry about who I was wrestling or what they placed or what their rank (was),” Dawson said.
Champion: Sky Langewicz, Algonac, Soph. (46-5)
Decision, 5-3, over Sunni LaFond, Gaylord, Soph. (30-15)
Langewicz captured her second Finals title in as many years, this time bumping up a weight class after winning at 105 pounds and finishing with a 19-0 record as a freshman.
On Saturday, she took a 2-0 lead in her Finals rematch against LaFond and rode it out.
“I think that’s the best part of it to be honest because, like, growing up I was always singled out, always, because I was the only girl,” Langewicz said. “I was always singled out, and I was always the only girl anywhere. It’s really cool to see this many girls. We grew enough to have our own, entire division, which is really cool.”
Champion: Faith Burgess, Grand Blanc, Soph. (29-3)
Fall, 2:49, over Morgan Irwin, Westland John Glenn, Sr. (30-7)
Moments after she captured the Finals title, Burgess raced up the stairs with one thing in mind.
“I was sprinting to my parents. It’s very big. It’s what I look forward to the most. I like celebrating with family and friends,” said Burgess, who noted she’s also been working on her diet and cardio plan.
“(I) kind of have faith in just my pursuit for the week – get it done.”
Champion: Cecilia Williams, Mason, Fr. (23-5)
Fall, 5:28, over Isabella Cepak, South Lyon East, Soph. (45-10)
Williams tore the UCL in her left arm in January, but she wasn’t feeling too much pain Saturday at Ford Field – she was feeling just fine after capturing a Finals title in her first try.
“When I got into the season, I was going to wrestle in the guys’ division at 113, but I tore my UCL and I actually have surgery Monday,” she said. “It didn’t heal in time for guys’ Regionals so I was like, ‘I’m going to (compete with the) girls.
“It’s hard to do cradles and stuff because it pulls on it, but it was easy today. It didn’t hurt it that much.”
Champion: Margaret Buurma, Fowlerville, Soph. (31-7)
Fall, 2:35, over Jamie Cook, DeWitt, Soph. (28-7)
Buurma captured her second-straight Finals championship, having collected the title at 115 last season. She did not take anything for granted, calling Cook “an amazing competitor.”
She leaned on her team to help pull her through the tough moments this season.
“I bonded with this team. They’re all, like, siblings to me. This team, it was definitely a different feeling. I hung out with these kids most every day,” Buurma said. “Even when we weren’t wrestling, we were doing something together. Even when I was upset, they were the ones there saying, ‘Hey, it’s OK, you’ve got the next one. Just focus on what’s ahead of you.’”
Champion: Angelina Pena, Milan, Jr. (21-5)
Decision, 5-0, over Tyler Swanigan, South Lyon East, Jr. (38-15)
Pena made it two Finals titles in a row, adding one at 130 pounds after winning it at 120 last season. This time, she defeated another reigning champ in Swanigan, who won the 130-pound title last season.
How can Pena possibly top that going forward?
“Well, maybe training harder over the summer and me getting straight pins (at Finals weekend) next year – we’ll see,” said Pena, who posted three pins Friday before earning her decision Saturday.
“I train with all my friends, who are girls state champs. I’d like to thank my dad and my mom, all my coaches who’ve put in the effort to coach me through the difficult times.”
Champion: Serenity Hayes, Whittemore-Prescott, Soph. (34-6)
Decision, 1-0, over Caylynn Chandler, Birch Run, Sr. (13-3)
Hayes had not defeated Chandler in any previous meetings, but she got the win Saturday when it counted most. Despite the earlier setbacks, she entered with confidence.
“A level to where I wasn’t cocky, but just enough to where I thought I could win,” said Hayes, who placed seventh at 130 pounds last year.
“Especially being only a sophomore and only (at the Finals) for a couple years, I’m really happy.”
Champion: Ryen Allen, Goodrich, Jr. (7-2)
Decision, 5-2, over Danni Swihart, Hanover-Horton, Sr. (35-7)
Allen finished second at 125 pounds last season after capturing a Michigan Wrestling Association championship as a freshman.
She didn’t like the feeling of being runner-up, so she went to work.
“I needed to put more work in. I was not the best that I could be and after I lost last year, I put in all the work I could,” she said. “I went and focused on nationals after, and after that I knew this year was going to be my year and I made it my year.”
Champion: Lydia Roope, St. Charles, Sr. (25-7)
Fall, 4:36, over Rihanna Venegas, Riverview Gabriel Richard, Soph. (23-5)
Roope trailed 4-2 in the third period when she surprised many – maybe even herself – by recording a pinfall.
“I don’t remember (which move she made) honestly. I don’t really remember. I just thought I was in neutral and I thought, ‘I have to score here,’” she said.
“It’s just amazing. My senior year … I don’t know if I’ll ever get a moment like that again on this stage. It feels absolutely amazing.”
Champion: Maddie Hayden, Caledonia, Fr. (25-4)
Decision, 7-5, over Brynn Green, Howell, Sr. (27-3)
After posting a hard-earned win over Green and capturing the title in her first try, it didn’t really hit Hayden until she looked up at her coaches and saw the joy in their faces.
All the hard work this season paid off.
“It’s a lot of ups and downs, obviously,” Hayden said. “I mean, everybody will tell you that, but I think the downs are really what helped me the most. Persevering through the downs really helped me get back up, and I really think that’s what’s shaped me into the wrestler I am now.”
Champion: Sabrina Nauss, Brighton, Jr. (13-0)
Fall, 1:09, over Gabriella Allen, Marcellus, Jr. (30-5)
Last season, Nauss received some fanfare for becoming the first female to win an MHSAA Individual Finals match at Ford Field.
This weekend, she was all business. On Saturday, she went to work and posted a quick pinfall.
“This one, I came in and I knew what I had to get done and I had laser focus. I got my first takedowns, and I just came in and did what I needed to do,” she said.
“Just staying focused and going out there and doing a job, just like normal – sticking to my basics.”
Champion: Mady Frisbie, Belding, Soph. (21-12)
Decision, 5-0, over Lillianna Garcia, Grand Blanc, Jr. (20-9)
After losing in this championship match last year, Frisbie went to work and came into this season with a different mindset. She guarded against “getting too cocky or getting too doubtful.”
She brought a growth mindset into this season and left with the championship. She learned some lessons.
“That it’s OK to lose. It really hurt when I lost last year, but I (learned) that losing makes you better and that’s not what it’s about, really. It’s not everything,” Frisbie said.
PHOTOS (Top) Clio’s Khloe Williams shows her chart after capping her high school career with a championship Saturday. (Middle) Milan’s Angelina Pena, left, and South Lyon East’s Tyler Swanigan lock up in the 130-pound title match. (Below) Whittemore-Prescott’s Serenity Hayes takes the mat for her championship bout. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)