D2 Final: Redwings Golden Again

February 25, 2012

BATTLE CREEK – Four years ago, a highly-anticipated group of freshmen joined a St. Johns wrestling program long considered solid – and took the first steps toward making it elite.

Those Redwings left Kellogg Arena on Saturday with their third straight MHSAA Division 2 championship – and a claim on being one of the most dominant teams ever to compete in this state.

St. Johns downed Lowell 41-18 to finish a Finals weekend during which it beat three opponents by a combined 161-35. The Redwings finished 25-1 this season, with that lone loss to Ohio powerhouse Lakewood St. Edward. But St. Johns still hasn’t lost to an in-state opponent since 2010 – and had beaten Lowell by the identical score earlier this winter.

“The first title as a team we won was one of the most exciting moments of my wrestling career. This was a great one too,” said St. Johns senior Taylor Massa, who next weekend will attempt to become the 16th four-time individual champion in MHSAA history.

“We knew we worked hard all our lives, and we knew we deserved this. I think we just proved it.”

St. Johns, which also beat eventual Division 1 champion Detroit Catholic Central during the regular season, led the Red Arrows the entire Division 2 Final and clinched it with two bouts remaining.

Lowell and St. Johns have a combined 25 individual Finals qualifiers, and St. Johns earned only three pins Saturday – by Massa at 171 pounds and juniors Brant Schafer at 130 and Josh Pennell at 145. But the Redwings also pulled off decisions by two and one point, respectively, and gave up just one pin.

Lowell finished 26-2 this season, with both losses to St. Johns.

“They put a lot of pressure on,” Lowell coach Dave Dean said. “They work very hard, but (also have) just talent alone. We kinda had a string theory of if we did this and this, maybe we’d have a chance today.”

All but one of the Redwings' seven seniors will compete at the Individual Finals, with Jordan Wohlfert joining Massa as a reigning champion. Massa has signed to wrestle at the University of Michigan next season, and Wohlfert will do the same at Michigan State.

St. Johns was 59-51 in the four seasons before these seniors entered high school. The Redwings finished 121-7 during their four-year run.

“These guys are awesome. We’re going to miss them,” St. Johns coach Zane Ballard said. “They are just a great group of kids and were real close.

“Our goal could only be one thing, and that’s to be here next year doing the same thing. That is our goal, and I know this group we have, they can come back and do it.”

Click for match-by-match results from the Final, Semifinals and Quarterfinals. See more photos at 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.

Greater DetroitThat 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 DunlapKeith 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 keithdunla[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.)