Crespo Begins 'Chase' with 1st D4 Title
By Wes Morgan
Special for MHSAA.com
March 8, 2017
Oftentimes a coaching change is accompanied by the need to restock talent in order to rebuild.
That certainly wasn’t the case for first-year Mendon wrestling coach Caleb Stephenson, who took over for his father, Art, this winter.
Not only were the raw materials in place for the Hornets, as it turned out, some of the newbies weren’t that raw at all.
Already polished after having competed in national tournaments since the third grade, Skyler Crespo ripped through his first varsity season with only one loss en route to an MHSAA Division 4 championship at 125 pounds this past weekend.
Entering the tournament seeded No. 1 in his weight class, he expected nothing less.
Becoming the first freshman in school history to win a Finals championship, Crespo crushed it in his first appearance at The Palace of Auburn Hills, finishing 4-0 and atop the all-state podium. His final record for his rookie season was an astonishing 52-1.
Just like he did in the Regional Finals, Crespo, one of only two freshmen in the bracket, edged reigning champion Robert LeFevre of Erie Mason in the championship bout, this time by a 3-1 decision.
A few scrambles between the two ate up most of the first period before Crespo snatched LeFevre’s leg and recorded a takedown. Crespo was called for stalling a second time in the third period to make it 2-1. He dodged a couple more shots and had an escape in the final minute.
Supremely confident all season, Crespo wasn’t distracted by all the hype surrounding the Palace atmosphere. His first-round match Thursday went off without a hitch — a pin in 1 minute, 58 seconds against Roscommon’s Deklin James.
In the championship Quarterfinals on Friday, Crespo earned a 13-7 decision against Jacob Brand from Burton Bentley.
“The biggest thing for me was just getting to the second weigh-in (after the Quarterfinals),” Crespo said. “Trying to watch my weight wasn’t the most fun. After that, I knew I was in really good shape.”
Crespo put on a show in the Semifinals, dominating Jacob Roberts of Leroy Pine River in an 18-3 technical fall to advance to the Finals. In the championship against LeFevre, both grapplers knew the other’s moves from the Regional match (a 2-0 Crespo win) and studying footage.
“I knew he was going to be tough; he’s a strong kid,” Crespo said. “I knew I was better than him on my feet and better than him on top. I knew he was going to try to ride me and turn me. I knew if I worked my hardest, I was better in every aspect of the match.”
“Skyler wrestled a really great match from a match management standpoint, and controlled the situations he was in with composure,” Caleb Stephenson said. “LeFevre had a great game plan for us, but Sky stayed true to who he is and stayed confident in his offense and defense.
“Lots of people that see Skyler from afar don't understand the type of work that he has put in for years, both mentally and physically, that has prepared him for this moment. He has been all over the country pursuing great tournaments with his parents, who have dedicated so much to his success, so it may surprise some people, but it doesn't surprise those closest to him, because he's already chasing three more.”
It was a fantastic weekend for Mendon as a total of three grapplers were among the top-eight all-state finishers in Division 4.
Wyatt Cool defeated Hart’s Carlos Garza 6-1 in the fifth-place match at 160 pounds. The junior capped his season with a 48-4 record and second consecutive all-state finish.
Classmate Nik Andaverde also made it as far as the championship Semifinals before finishing fourth overall at 112 pounds. Andaverde ended the year with a 48-5 record.
Despite working on wrestling year round, Crespo competes in three sports at Mendon. He plays football and plans to tee it up for the golf team this spring.
“I always try to do something every day to get better (at wrestling),” he said. “It’s not always fun, but when you get rewarded like this, it feels good.”
Wes Morgan has reported for the Kalamazoo Gazette, ESPN and ESPNChicago.com, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of JoeInsider.com. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.
PHOTO: (Top) Mendon's Skyler Crespo wrestles Erie Mason's Robert LeFevre during Saturday's Division 4 Final at 125 pounds. (Middle) Crespo celebrates his first MHSAA championship. (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 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.)