D2 Preview: Red Arrows on Target Again

February 26, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Arguably, no team has been a bigger title favorite from start to finish in MHSAA wrestling this season than two-time Division 2 reigning champion Lowell.

The Red Arrows need only three more wins to make good again on those high expectations. 

But that's easier said than done, especially with rival St. Johns back in the mix after a year away from Finals competition. 

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 6 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at noon Saturday and the championship match at 3:30 p.m. All matches this weekend will be streamed live on a subscription basis on MHSAA.TV. For results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page.

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

#1 Lowell

Record/rank: 20-3, No. 1
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference White.
Coach: R.J. Boudro, second season (49-5)
Championship history: Five MHSAA championships (most recent 2015), six runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jeff Leach (28-8) fr.; 125 Lucas Hall (25-0) sr.; 125 Sam Russell (24-11) jr.; 130 Avry Mutschler (33-6) fr.; 140 Zeth Dean (27-4) sr.; 145 Bryce Dempsey (28-11) jr.; 160 David Kruse (19-1) soph.; 160 Keigan Yuhas (35-7) soph.; 171 Danny Kruse (30-2) sr.; 189 Max Dean (30-0) sr.; 215 Eli Boulton (25-13) jr.
Outlook: Lowell has wrestled in four straight championship matches and won two straight titles, and has been the unquestioned favorite all season. Hall and Zeth Dean are reigning MHSAA individual champions – Hall has won two titles in a row – and Danny Kruse and Russell also placed last season. A total of 16 wrestlers have at least 20 wins, including four reserves.

#2 St. Johns

Record/rank: 26-4, No. 3
League finish: Tied for first in Capital Area Activities Conference Red. 
Coach: Derek Phillips, fourth season (87-13)
Championship history: Four MHSAA championships (most recent 2013), one runner-up finish.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Brendan Zelenka (32-4) soph.; 112 Emilio Sanchez (37-10) jr.; 125 James Whitaker (15-6) fr.; 135 Trent Lashuay (39-9) jr.; 140 Ian Parker (42-2) sr.; 152 Brett Fedewa (45-4) jr.;160 Lucas McFarland (34-5) jr.; 285 Jake Gnegy (42-2) sr.
Outlook: St. Johns is back after missing the Quarterfinals last season despite entering the postseason ranked No. 1, and the Redwings will be plenty motivated to make a sixth championship match in seven seasons. St. Johns defeated No. 7 Eaton Rapids and No. 2 DeWitt on the way to CMU. Parker is the reigning champion at 125 and was runner-up at 103 as a freshman, and Lashuay, Gnegy and senior Derek Droste also placed in 2015.

#3 Gaylord

Record/rank: 41-1, No. 4
League finish: First in Big North Conference.
Coach: Jerry La Joie, 22
nd season (600-128-2)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Derek Giallombardo (52-3) soph.; 112 Trevor Giallombardo (51-5) sr.; 119 Dominic La Joie (56-0) jr.; 130 Jon Martin (53-3) sr.; 140 Brady Schulz (27-13) soph.; 171 Nate Nutter (44-13) sr.
Outlook: Gaylord made its second Quarterfinal in a row by beating No. 9 Flint Kearsley among others after locking up a ninth-straight league title. Dominic La Joie is a two-time individual champion, winning 103 as a freshman and 112 last winter, and Trevor Giallombardo was the runner-up at 103 and Martin a placer at 125 in 2015. Gaylord as a team has more than 40 wins for the second time on Jerry La Joie and first time since 2003-04 after suffering its only loss last season in the Semifinal to eventual champion Lowell.  

#4 Goodrich

Record/rank: 33-4, No. 5
League finish: First in Genesee Area Conference Red.
Coach: Ken Sirignano, sixth season (record N/A)
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2008 and 2009, runners-up 1997 and 1999.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Caleb Teague (41-9) fr.; 119 Dominic Edwards (33-19) fr.; 135 Nathan Ellis (46-3) sr.; 135 Cody Orcutt (36-16) jr.; 152 Honour Kline 39-12) fr.; 160 Nick Foglio (33-17) sr.; 171 John Penfold (44-6) sr., 285 Blake Coffell (26-24) fr.
 Goodrich is making its first trip to Finals weekend since its last championship season of 2009, and also its first trip in Division 2. Ellis and Penfold were individual placers last season and are among four seniors in a lineup that could be scary the next three seasons; eight freshmen start, including four Individual Finals qualifiers.

#5 Allegan

Record/rank: 30-5, unranked
League finish: First in Wolverine Conference. 
Coach: Murray Rose, 29
th season (748-157-2)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 2007 in Division 2), two runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Davynn Schneider (45-8) jr.; 112 Jake Orr (31-13) soph.; 130 Ricky Jefferson (34-17) jr.; 135 Joey Orr (44-5) sr.; 160 Trey Boerman (45-8) sr.; 171 Levi Sabin (39-8) sr.; 189 Austin Farrell (46-10) sr.
Outlook: Allegan is back in Division 2 after a time in Division 3 and making its eighth straight trip to the Quarterfinals. A group of six seniors fill every weight but one from 140-215, and Sabin, Farrell and junior Chase Beard were individual placers last season in Division 3 – with Schneider, Jefferson and Orr also among returning qualifiers for next weekend.

#6 Warren Woods Tower

Record/rank: 26-6, No. 6
League finish: Third in Macomb Area Conference Red. 
Co-coaches: Greg Mayer, 16th season (301-232)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 David Stepanian (39-7) fr.; 103 Chaise Mayer (47-5) fr.; 112 Elijuh Weaver (53-1) jr.; 135 Joe Schindler (40-10) jr.; 140 Nico Martini (32-13) jr.; 152 Jajuan Lovejoy (40-18) soph.
Outlook: Warren Woods Tower is back at Finals weekend for the second time in three seasons and with its most wins under Mayer. Eight underclassmen and only one senior starter make for some exciting possibilities in the future as well. Part of having that much youth is having no returning individual placers from a year ago, but the Titans have gained valuable experience wrestling in a strong league and with assistant Russell Correll serving as a co-coach with Mayer.

#7 Dearborn Heights Annapolis

Record/rank: 38-3, unranked
League finish: Second in Western Wayne Athletic Conference Red.
Coach: Vic McGuire, 24th season (548-183)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Justin Manuel (51-6) sr.; 130 David Knapp (49-9) sr.; 145 Dustin Gross (51-3) soph.; 189 Jon Cox (54-1) sr.; 215 Gregory Johnson (48-8) sr.
 Annapolis is returning to the Quarterfinals for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2009 and 2010 after keeping two District and one Regional opponent to 20 or fewer points. Gross was an Individual Finals placer last season as a freshman and he adds high-pressure experience to an already-veteran lineup including eight seniors and two juniors.

#8 Sturgis

Record/rank: 27-7, unranked
League finish: Second in Wolverine Conference.
Coach: Bryan Boughton, ninth season (242-122)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 160 Luke Carver (48-2) sr.; 215 Anthony Neal (31-4) sr.; 285 Jake Stevens (30-3) sr.
Outlook: Sturgis has won four District titles under Boughton, but this is the first trip to the Quarterfinals in program history. The Trojans defeated annual power Stevensville Lakeshore by three in the Regional Semifinal as part of this run, and are setting up nicely to continue contending with only six seniors in the starting lineup. Carver and Neal were both Regional runners-up.

PHOTO: Gaylord and Lowell met during MHSAA Team Finals weekend in 2015 and could face off again this weekend in Division 2. (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.)