D2 Preview: Boone Pursues Title Sweep

March 5, 2020

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

The name Brent Metcalf is as revered as any in the history of Michigan high school wrestling.

By Saturday night, Lowell’s Austin Boone may join the Davison legend in a pair of historic achievements.

Boone, with two others this weekend, will attempt to become the 27th wrestler to win four MHSAA Individual Finals championships. He’ll also attempt to join Metcalf as the only wrestlers in state history to win four individually and be part of four Team Finals titles. Metcalf won his from 2002-05 before going on to star at University of Iowa and internationally.

Below, we look at Boone and nine more contenders to watch in Division 2, plus list all of the top seeds heading into this weekend. Surely we missed a few who will end up among the biggest headliners Saturday – but come back to Second Half early Sunday as we’ll interview and report on all 56 champions.

The “Grand March” on Friday begins at 11 a.m., with five rounds wrestled throughout the day including the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. Wrestling picks back up with consolation rounds at 9 a.m. Saturday, and concludes with the championship matches that afternoon at 3:30 p.m.

Follow all matches on a subscription basis live on MHSAA.tv, and click here for results at MHSAA.com.

112 Jacob Brya, St. Johns sophomore (37-0) – The latest Redwings standout is off to a championship start after winning the title at 103 a year ago, and he’s the top seed at his weight this weekend. He has won 27 times by pin this winter and three more by technical fall as he’s pushed his career record to 79-2.

130 Christopher Lilly, Croswell-Lexington senior (50-1) – After qualifying for the Finals but missing out on placing his first two seasons, Lilly broke out in a big way with the championship at 135 in 2019. His only loss this winter came Friday during the Team Quarterfinals; he’s 102-8 over the last two seasons.

135 Nick Matsuko, Chelsea senior (45-0) – The top seed in his bracket this weekend, Matsuko hasn’t lost since suffering his only defeat of last season in the 140 final. He’s won 35 matches this winter by pin and built a combined 90-1 record over the last two seasons.

140 Nate Young, Holly senior (45-1) – After finishing runner-up at 130 a year ago, Young has been nearly unstoppable this winter with his only loss to Detroit Catholic Central two-time champ Joshua Edmond. Young is the top seed at this weight, and 37 of his wins have come with bonus points. He took sixth at 103 as a freshman.   

145 Austin Boone, Lowell senior (37-0) – Boone’s first three championships have come at 135, 145 and 152, and another title run also will give him his first undefeated season at the high school level. He’s the top seed at this weight and will continue his career wrestling at Penn State.

145 Chayse LaJoie, Gaylord senior (35-1) – The champion at 103 and 112 his first two seasons, respectively, finished runner-up by 3-2 decision in the final at 125 a year ago. He could end up in the premier match of the weekend if he faces Boone in the final at this weight; LaJoie’s only loss this winter came to Boone at last week’s Team Final. LaJoie will continue his career at Cornell.

160 Caleb Fish, Eaton Rapids senior (42-0) – The Greyhounds standout will look to finish his high school career with a second-straight championship after winning at 145 last season. He also was runner-up at 135 in 2018 and fifth at that weight as a freshman, and has just one loss over the last two seasons. He’s the top seed at his weight and will continue at Michigan State.

171 Cody Brenner, New Boston Huron junior (45-2) – The top seed at this weight earned it in part with a Regional win over reigning 160 champ Omari Embree of Warren Woods Tower (see below). Brenner’s most recent loss came to an out-of-state opponent, and his only instate defeat was at the first event of the season to a Division 1 contender. Brenner was eighth at 160 as a freshman and third at 171 last season.

171 Omari Embree, Warren Woods Tower sophomore (25-2) – He also debuted in the best possible way last season, with the championship at 160. He’s not the top seed at this weight as one of his two losses came two weeks ago to Brenner by an 8-6 decision. But Embree’s only other loss came to an out-of-state opponent.  

189 John Shelton, East Grand Rapids senior (47-0) – The future Central Michigan wrestler is the top seed at this weight after finishing runner-up a year ago losing a 3-2 decision in the final to Cedar Springs’ Sage Serbenta, the only wrestler to defeat Shelton (twice total) during 2018-19. Shelton also took sixth at this weight as a freshman and fifth as a sophomore.

Other 2019 runners-up: 112 Jamison Zimmerman, Niles senior (28-5, 103 in 2019); 119 Joe Haynes, Warren Woods Tower junior (45-3, 119 in 2019); 160 Nelson Poet, New Boston Huron senior (38-4, 160 in 2019); 189 Kayleb Venema, Whitehall senior (35-5, 189 in Division 3 in 2019).

Additional No. 1 seeds: 103 Nolan Wertanen, St. Joseph sophomore (42-2); 119 Joe Haynes, Warren Woods Tower junior (45-3); 125 John Sosa, Gaylord senior (38-2); 130 Rico Brown, Gaylord senior (31-2); 152 Jacob Gonzales, Holly sophomore (45-0); 215 Zolen Marron, Lake Fenton senior (50-0); 285 Joe Harper, Imlay City senior (43-1).

Also undefeated: 140 Shenard Foster, Harper Woods freshman (16-0).

PHOTO: Lowell’s Austin Boone (top) works toward a major decision at the end of last Friday’s Quarterfinal win over Muskegon Reeths-Puffer. (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.

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 [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.)