D2 Preview: Lowell Aims to be 3rd to 5
February 22, 2018
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
After becoming the fifth school in MHSAA history to win four straight Team Wrestling Finals last year, Lowell can become just the third to make it five consecutive this weekend at Wings Events Center.
The Red Arrows will be chasing the record for longest streak held by Davison 2002-06 and Hudson 2009-13, and are seeded No. 1 again heading into Friday’s Quarterfinals – but with last season’s runner-up Warren Woods Tower right behind at No. 2.
Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 6:45 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at noon Saturday and the championship match that afternoon at 3:30 p.m. All matches this weekend will be viewable live on a subscription basis on MHSAA.tv. For Friday’s schedule and results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page.
Record/rank: 17-4, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Coach: RJ Boudro, fourth season (86-11)
Championship history: Seven MHSAA championships (most recent 2017), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Nick Korhorn (28-8) soph. 119 Dawson Jankowski (22-9) soph., 125 Zeth Strejc (21-9) fr., 130 Jeff Leach (24-7) jr., Doak Dean (29-9) fr., 135 Avry Mutschler (35-4) jr., James Fotis (30-10) soph., 145 Austin Boone (37-1) soph., 171 Austin Engle (30-7) sr., 189 Dave Kruse (35-3) sr., 215 Connor Nugent (33-11) sr., 215 Keigan Yuhas (15-1) sr., 285 Tyler Deloof (29-7) soph.
Outlook: Lowell will try to win a fifth straight Division 2 title led by a reigning individual champion in Boone and 2017 placers Leach, Mutschler and Kruse. They are four of nine Individual Finals qualifiers who also took the mat for last season’s championship match win over Warren Woods-Tower. The Red Arrows marched through the District and Regional rounds this time giving up a total of 34 points over four matches. Two of this year’s losses were to Division 1 top-ranked Detroit Catholic Central and Division 3 top-ranked Dundee.
#2 Warren Woods Tower
Record/rank: 25-5, No. 3
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Co-coaches: Greg Mayer and Russell Correll, 18th seasons (352-238)
Championship history: Division 2 runner-up 2017.
Individual Finals qualifiers: Joe Haynes (40-4) fr., 112 Dru Wilson (34-14) fr., 119 David Stepanian (38-2) jr., 125 Chaise Mayer (46-1) jr., 145 Keff O’Connell (29-13) jr., 152 Jajuan Lovejoy (40-6) sr., 215 Joel Radvansky (38-4) jr., 285 CJ Sheir (30-17) jr.
Outlook: The Titans reached their first MHSAA championship match last year and gave Lowell a run before falling 32-21. Nine upperclassmen (but just three seniors) dominate the lineup, with Mayer a two-time Individual Finals runner-up and O’Connell, Lovejoy, Radvansky and senior Austin Frederick (152, 11-7) all placers a year ago. Haynes, Wilson, Stepanian and Mayer give the team strength at the lightest weights and are backed up by two more freshmen with at least 26 wins apiece this winter.
Record/rank: 35-1, No. 4
League finish: First in Big North Conference
Coach: Jerry LaJoie, 24th season (666-131-2)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Chayse LaJoie (40-3) soph., 119 John Sosa (31-6) soph., 125 Derek Giallombardo (45-3) sr., 140 Jacob McKnight (33-6) soph., 160 Nick Brewster (22-8) sr., 171 Cade Foster (45-3) sr., 285 Joe Markham (44-4) sr.
Outlook: Gaylord got past nemesis and No. 8-ranked St. Johns at the Regional to return to the Quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons after missing a year ago. Chayse LaJoie is a reigning Individual Finals champion, and Markham, Sosa and Giallombardo also were placers in 2017. Nine expected starters have at least 30 wins, including three of five seniors who will take the mat – but seven starting sophomores indicate good things are yet to come as well.
#4 Eaton Rapids
Record/rank: 26-4, No. 5
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference White
Coach: Joe Ray Barry, sixth season (190-42)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 1999), nine runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Robert Davids (33-5) fr., 125 Chris Haynes (35-9) soph., 135 Chad Haynes (30-8) soph., 140 Caleb Fish (43-2) soph., 152 Brayden McNamara (35-9) jr., 160 Austin O’Hearon (40-1) sr., 215 Dallas Price (28-12) sr.
Outlook: Eaton Rapids is back at the Quarterfinals for the first time since finishing Division 2 runner-up in 2015. After winning their District matches by a combined 147-3, the Greyhounds got past rival Mason and upset No. 2 DeWitt at the Regional. O’Hearon is a reigning individual champion but one of only three senior starters. Fish also was an Individual Finals placer last season and is one of seven underclassmen expected to take the mat.
#5 Stevensville Lakeshore
Record/rank: 21-1, No. 6
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West
Coach: Bruce Bittenbender, 48th season (911-256-2)
Championship history: Two MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 1994).
Individual Finals qualifiers: Riley Bettich (38-2) soph., 103 Bailey DeLaTorre (30-10) soph., 125 Shane Williams (33-7) soph., 140 Tony Williams (39-2) sr., 145 Kearri Myrick (25-10) sr., 160 Cody Carlisle (40-3) sr., 189 Ryan Rush (30-13) sr., 215 Zeke Rohl (29-10) soph., 285 Tyler Hill (34-2) sr.
Outlook: Lakeshore is back at the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2012, led by the winningest coach in state wrestling history in Bittenbender. The Lancers got past rival and No. 7-ranked Niles at the District before giving up a total of 20 points in sweeping the Regional. Bettich was an individual runner-up last season and Tony Williams also placed at the Individual Finals. Interestingly, the starting lineup is split evenly between seniors and sophomores, and almost evenly with seniors at seven of the eight heaviest weights.
Record/rank: 25-5, No. 9
League finish: First in the Genesee Area Conference
Coach: Kenneth Sirignano, eighth season (record N/A)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 2009), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Caleb Teague (38-4) jr., 125 Carson Turnbow (32-12) jr., 160 James Penfold (11-1) jr., 171 Juwan Vines (31-8) soph., 189 Honour Kline (40-4) jr., 285 Blake Coffell (38-5) jr.
Outlook: Goodrich had a nice run in Division 3 over the previous two decades with all four of its championship match appearances between 1997-2009. This is the Martians’ second Quarterfinal trip in Division 2 after they also made it in 2016, and they haven’t let an opponent get closer than 19 points during this postseason run. Coffell and Kline were Individual Finals placers last season.
Record/rank: 35-7, unranked
League finish: First in O-K Blue
Coach: Duane Watson, 30th season (606-235)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Asher Meekhof (46-7) sr., 135 Gabe TeBos (45-6) sr., 145 Nathan Wynsma (43-4) jr., 160 Dillon Reeder (29-13) jr., 215 Jordan DeGroot (43-8) soph., 285 Adam Ginn (30-12) sr.
Outlook: Allendale will make its second straight Quarterfinals appearance after giving up 40 points total over four District and Regional matches. The Falcons are bringing six Individual Finals qualifiers instead of five a year ago, when they entered the weekend seeded fifth. Wynsma was an individual placer last season and Meekoff placed in 2016 – the latter is one of nine senior starters.
Record/rank: 24-7, unranked
League finish: First in Southeastern Conference White
Coach: A.J. Marry, third season (62-29)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Vincent Perez (49-0) jr., 119 Joshua Hilton (41-15) jr., 125 Kellen Patton (39-7) jr., 140 Kyle Yuhas (38-13) soph., 160 Gabe Bechtol (34-8) sr., 171 Clayton Boatright (24-21) jr., 189 Ryan Roberts (47-6) sr.
Outlook: It’s tough to imagine a more accomplished No. 8 seed. Tecumseh will be wrestling in its seventh Quarterfinal in eight seasons, bringing in seven Individual Finals qualifiers – one more than last year’s team that fell to Lowell 41-20 in the opener. Patton was a repeat individual placer last season and Perez also placed at the Individual Finals – and both are among 11 starters who should return for another run in 2019 as well.
PHOTO: Lowell’s Keigan Yuhas and Warren Woods Tower’s Jajuan Lovejoy lock up during last season’s Division 2 championship match. (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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)