D1 Preview: Powerful Pair Seeded to Meet for Finals Rematch
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
February 24, 2022
Three of the past five seasons have seen Davison and Detroit Catholic Central face off for the Division 1 championship. That could play out again this weekend at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo.
They are once again the top two seeds in the division with Quarterfinals – matchups below – set to begin at 2:15 p.m. Friday. Davison won last season’s championship match 29-24 over the Shamrocks, and defeated DCC this regular season 32-31 on Jan. 28.
#1 Davison (16-4) vs. #8 Warren Woods Tower (7-8)
#4 Macomb Dakota (22-3) vs. #5 Temperance Bedford (30-4)
#3 Hartland (28-1) vs. #6 Holt (21-3)
#2 Detroit Catholic Central (12-3) vs. #7 Grandville (15-3)
Semifinals will start at 9:30 Saturday morning, with the championship match at 3:45 p.m.
Tickets for Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals will be sold by the Wings Event Center box office. All matches for all three rounds also will be viewable on MHSAA.tv with subscription.
Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 1, listed by seed. (Girls Finals qualifiers are noted with “G” with weight class, as those classes differ from the other Individual Finals brackets.)
Record/rank: 16-4, No. 1
League finish: Second in Saginaw Valley League
Coach: Zac Hall, second season (28-4)
Championship history: Nine MHSAA championships (most recent 2021), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Justin Gates (25-2) soph., 125 Caden Horwath (23-0) jr., 125 Kyle Jelinek (27-10) fr., 130 Brendan Maybee (23-9) sr., 135 Cameron Freeman (19-7) sr., 140 Evan Herriman (15-2) jr., 145 Owen Payne (9-1) sr., 152 Max Callahan (15-5) jr., 160 Kyle White (25-4) sr., 171 Josh Barr (21-1) jr., 189 Remy Cotton (20-3) jr., 215 Jimmy Colley (25-2) sr., 285 Zane Richardson (29-4) sr.
Outlook: Davison won last season’s championship – its first since 2006 and with five runner-up finishes in between – with eight starters expected to be in the lineup again this weekend. Gates (103), Horwath (119), Barr (160) and Colley (215) all are reigning Individual Finals champions – Barr and Horwath are both two-time title winners – while Herrman was last season’s runner-up at 135 and Freeman, Maybee and White were Finals placers.
#2 DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 12-3, No. 2
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Mitch Hancock, 15th season (326-53)
Championship history: Fifteen MHSAA championships (most recent 2020), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Nathan Walkowiak (29-6) fr., 112 Simon Dominguez (25-13) soph., 119 Drew Heethuis (25-3) jr., 130 Clayton Jones (29-3) jr., 130 Anthony Walker (25-9) sr., 135 Mason Stewart (27-3) soph., 140 Dylan Gilcher (32-0) jr., 140 Jake Matigian (31-9) fr., 145 Steven Shellenberger (21-13) jr., 152 Tatum Bunn (20-11) jr., 152 Darius Marines (29-4) soph., 160 Cameron Adams (24-8) jr., 171 Manuel Rojas (32-1) sr., 189 Connor Bercume (29-8) fr.
Outlook: DCC has wrestled in five straight Division 1 championship matches – winning four straight from 2017-20 – and this lineup is anticipated to return despite only three senior starters. That hardly means there’s less experience than most. Heethuis (112), Gilcher (135), Marines (145) and Rojas are reigning individual champs, with Gilcher and Rojas wrestling next weekend for their third titles. Walker, Jones and Bunn also are returning Finals placers.
Record/rank: 28-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association (overall)
Coach: Kyle Summerfield, first season (28-1)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2016, five runner-up finishes
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jake Gillespie (38-3) soph., 112 Patrick Wlodyga (36-8) sr., 119 Easton Culver (22-6) fr., 125 Liam Wiitanen (31-9) jr., 135 Vinnie Abbey (36-4) soph., 140 Gabe Cappellano (39-4) jr., 145 Justin VanVaerenbergh (39-2) sr., 152 Nick Dimitroff (19-1) jr., 160 Nick Rochowiak (31-4) jr., 171 Brayden Bobo (37-3) jr., 189 Chase Kern (39-4) jr., 215 Avery Dickerson (4-1) sr., 255-G Eliana Bommarito (17-6) sr.
Outlook: Summerfield, a past Hartland standout, took over the program this season after longtime coach Todd Cheney retired as the fourth-winningest in MHSAA history. Summerfield has totaled more than 150 coaching wins including at Linden before coming to Hartland, and his team’s only loss this winter was to No. 10 Brighton. The Eagles haven’t given up a point over three postseason matches. Bobo, Dickerson, Kern, Abbey and Dimitroff all are returning Finals placers.
#4 MACOMB DAKOTA
Record/rank: 22-3, No. 4
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Coach: Ed Skowneski, 10th season (269-60)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Ozia Wilson (42-0) fr., 112 Caleb Weiand (42-0) jr., 112 Orion Wilson (10-2) jr., 119 Drew Astorga (30-9) jr., 125 Fritz Mueller (36-6) sr., 140 Jake Ferguson (29-12) jr., 140 Austin Alkazir (38-6) sr., Aiden Criteser (35-8) jr., 215 Anthony Coleman (35-8) jr.
Outlook: Dakota has won seven straight Regional championships and nine in 10 seasons under Skowneski. Weiand was the individual runner-up at 103 last season, while Orion Wilson is a two-time Finals placer and Alkazir joined them last winter. Alkazir also is one of only three senior starters, with seven juniors anchoring a lineup that should be tough again next season.
#5 TEMPERANCE BEDFORD
Record/rank: 30-4, No. 5
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference
Coach: Kevin Vogel, 11th season (255-59)
Championship history: Eleven MHSAA championships (most recent 2001), seven runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Vincent Cole (34-12) soph., 119 Brock Jandasek (38-12) jr., 125 Nathan Gerber (28-10) jr., 145 Jack Nigh (27-13) jr., 152 Tyler Boerst (37-6) jr., 160 Rollie Denker (50-2) sr.
Outlook: After a season away, Bedford is back at Finals weekend for the second time in three years and fifth time under Vogel. The Kicking Mules advanced this time with a 40-27 Regional Final win over No. 9 Westland John Glenn. Senior Randy Boisselle (35-4 at 171) was a Finals placer last season and is one of eight on the team with at least 30 wins.
Record/rank: 21-3, No. 8
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue
Coach: Stan Granger, first season (21-3)
Championship history: Four MHSAA championships (most recent 2008), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jacob Harris (29-11) soph., 112 Ryan Mosher (28-8) jr., 112 Mariano Lopez (31-4) jr., 130 Jason Jones (19-7) sr., 135 Ralph Thompson (30-12) sr., 160 Alex Russell (25-7) sr., 189 Nathan Bremer (14-4) sr., 215 Cole Newman (30-13) jr., 285 Joshua Terrill (38-2) sr.
Outlook: Granger is a past Holt standout and served as an assistant under longtime coach Rocky Shaft since 1998 before taking over the program. The Rams downed No. 10 Brighton 45-29 in a Regional Semifinal on the way to Kalamazoo. A junior-heavy lineup last season has become a group anchored by seven senior starters plus five more juniors. Terrill was the runner-up at 285 last season, while Bremer, Mosher, Jones, Thompson and Russell also were Finals placers.
Record/rank: 15-3, No. 6
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Bubba Gritter, 12th season (187-76)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 1993), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Josh Vasquez (35-3) fr., 119 Jaxon Sanchez (27-9) soph., 135 Justin Gorman (23-4) jr., 171 Max Herrema (22-9) soph., 285 Jordan Kaat (32-3) sr., 105-G Beyonkah Rincones (10-11), fr.
Outlook: Grandville is returning to the Finals for the first time since 2017 and fourth time under Gritter, after claiming a 34-25 win over No. 7 Rockford in the Regional Final to advance. Sanchez and senior Anthony Taylor (23-10 at 152) were Individual Finals placers in 2021.
#8 WARREN WOODS TOWER
Record/rank: 7-8, unranked
League finish: Fifth in MAC Red
Co-coaches: Greg Mayer, 22nd season (409-266) and Russell Correll, ninth season (172-70)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2017.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Dominic Gumtow (27-4) fr., 112 Daniel Staniszwski (15-8) soph., 130 Tyler Daniel (28-10) sr., 135 Aidan Ede (22-10) fr., 145 Josh Howey (24-2) sr.
Outlook: The Titans are headed to Finals weekend for the seventh-straight season, but this time in Division 1 after previously making the trip in Division 2. Daniel and Howey were Finals placers last season, and they are two of four senior starters for an otherwise younger group – eight underclassmen help fill the lineup.
PHOTO Hartland, here against Westland John Glenn, is the No. 3 seed this weekend in Division 1. (Photo by Douglas Bargerstock.)
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.)