D2 Preview: Champions Could Meet Again

March 2, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

A pair of reigning MHSAA individual champions met in Saturday’s Division 2 Team Final pitting Lowell and St. Johns.

They could meet again this weekend to determine the 140-pound title.

The Redwings' Ian Parker just got the best of the Red Arrows’ Zeth Dean, 3-0, although Lowell ended up the team champion at Central Michigan University. But the last time they both competed at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Parker left with the 125-pound title and Dean won at 130.

They are two of 10 contenders we’ve broken out below among many to watch this weekend at the Division 2 Individual Finals. Follow all the matches beginning with Thursday's first round on a subscription basis live on MHSAA.TV, and click here for results at MHSAA.com. And come back to Second Half this weekend as we’ll interview all 14 title winners.

112: Cameron Mahlich, Ionia junior (38-2) – Last season’s champion at 103 finished only second at his Regional last month, but his only other loss this season came in December.  

112: Austin Franco, Stevensville Lakeshore senior (43-0) – Franco fell 14-10 in last season’s Final at this weight to Gaylord’s Dominic LaJoie (see below) and it was Franco’s only loss; he defeated Mahlich (see above) in the Regional this time.

119: Dominic LaJoie, Gaylord junior (58-0) – Undefeated at this point for the second time in three seasons, LaJoie is going for his third individual championship after winning 112 a year ago.

125: Lucas Hall, Lowell senior (28-0) – Fresh off being part of a third-straight team championship last weekend, Hall can finish his high school career with a third-straight individual title after winning at 119 last season; he’ll wrestle next at Michigan State University.  

140: Zeth Dean, Lowell senior (29-5) – He won last season at 130 pounds and was runner-up at 112 as a freshman, and he'll go on to compete for Harvard.

140: Ian Parker, St. Johns senior (45-2) – After helping the Redwings back to the Division 2 Team Final, Parker can end a champion once more on his way to continue at Iowa State.

145: Austin Melton, DeWitt senior (51-1) – The 2014 champion at 135 narrowly missed a second title last winter, falling 7-5 in the Final at 140; he’s the top seed at 145 this weekend.

189: Max Dean, Lowell senior (33-0) – The cousin of Zeth and younger brother of graduated Lowell star Gabe, Max has starred as well, winning 171 as a sophomore before missing last season with an injury. Like Gabe, he'll next suit up at Cornell.

215: Landon Pelham, Tecumseh senior (50-0) – Last season’s third-place finisher at this weight is the favorite this time and will continue his career after at Central Michigan.

285: Isaiah Espinoza, Adrian senior (43-1) – He made an unexpected run to runner-up at this weight last season, finishing with a record of only 18-7, but won’t surprise anyone this time.

Other 2015 runners-up: Gaylord senior Trevor Giallombardo (112, 53-5, 103 in 2015), Warren Woods Tower junior Elijuh Weaver (112, 54-1, D1 103 for Roseville in 2015), Owosso senior Emilio Campos (112, 39-6, D3 103 for Corunna in 2015) Parma Western junior Luke Raczkowski (135, 45-4, 130 in 2015), Parma Western senior Chase Veydt (140, 39-4, 135 in 2015), Eaton Rapids senior Clayton Higelmire (215, 41-2, 215 in 2015).

Also undefeated: Riverview senior Brandon Garcia (152, 51-0), Warren Lincoln junior Jelani Embree (171, 43-0), Cedar Springs junior Patrick DePiazza (285, 49-0).

More of note: Parma Western freshman Cory Gamet (103, 11-1), Ortonville Brandon senior Brendan Ladd (130, 52-3), Goodrich senior Nathan Ellis (135, 48-3), Ortonville Brandon senior Bryan LaVearn (140, 53-2), Sparta senior Joel Rees (152, 45-1), Warren Lincoln senior Deirrien Perkins (160, 37-1).

The MHSAA Wrestling Finals are presented by the Michigan Army National Guard.

PHOTO: Lowell’s Zeth Dean and St. Johns’ Ian Parker, right, locked up during last weekend’s Division 2 Team Final. (Click to see more at 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.)