D2 Preview: St. Joe's Wertanen, Holly's Gonzales Seek to Climb for 3rd Time
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 3, 2022
Only five returning Individual Finals champs are part of this weekend’s Division 2 brackets at Ford Field, and two of them won in a different division a year ago.
But two more of that few are wrestling for an especially elite honor.
St. Joseph senior Nolan Wertanen and Holly senior Jacob Gonzales both will wrestle for their third Finals championships and are among contenders we’ve highlighted below.
The Grand March on Friday begins at 10 a.m., with wrestling through semifinals that evening. Wrestling begins again at 9 a.m. Saturday with championship matches at 3:30 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at Ford Field. All matches will be broadcast live on MHSAA.tv, and we’ll talk to all 14 champions in each division for our Second Half coverage published later that evening and overnight. See the MHSAA Wrestling Finals page for more information and to follow results this weekend.
112 Adam Polk, Pontiac sophomore (34-2) – Last season’s champion at 103 could run into the top seed in this bracket in his second match but has lost only twice this winter, both times by decision.
119 Nolan Wertanen, St. Joseph senior (47-0) – The top seed at this weight hasn’t lost since his sophomore season and can add a third championship after winning 103 in 2020 and 112 in 2021. He has a 149-3 career record despite missing the second half of his freshman season with an injury.
125 Tayden Miller, Mason junior (33-0) – Last year’s runner-up at 119 is the top seed at this weight this weekend and also finished third at 103 as a freshman.
130 Louden Stradling, Gaylord junior (20-1) – He’s pursuing his first championship and top-seeded after finishing Division 1 runner-up at 103 as a freshman and 119 as a sophomore wrestling for Battle Creek Lakeview.
135 Aaron Lucio, Stevensville Lakeshore junior (50-0) – He’s up two weights after finishing runner-up last season at 125 and suffering his only loss of the winter in the championship match. He was third at 119 as a freshman.
145 Max Brown, Whitehall senior (37-6) – The top seed at this weight was last season’s Division 3 champion at 140, and he’s also placed third at 130 and fourth at 125 as his team has moved back and forth between the two divisions.
152 Micah Hanau, Stevensville Lakeshore senior (48-2) – He’s the top seed at his weight after finishing third at 140 last season and winning 130 as a sophomore. He also finished fifth at 125 as a freshman and has a 152-13 career record.
160 Jacob Gonzales, Holly senior (45-0) – The champion at 152 the last two years is top-seeded at this weight and hasn’t lost since he was a freshman; his career record is 171-3.
189 Kael Wisler, New Boston Huron senior (51-1) – He’s the top seed and seeking his first championship after finishing runner-up at 171 last season and eighth at that weight as a sophomore.
285 Ira Jenkins, Whitehall senior (47-0) – He also was a Division 3 champion last winter and hasn’t lost in two years, carrying a 172-11 career record into this weekend. He was fifth at 171 in Division 2 as a sophomore and third at 152 in Division 3 as a freshman.
Other 2021 runners-up: 135 Gage Race, Jackson Northwest junior (35-5, 130 last year); 152 Jack Conley, Lake Fenton junior (45-5, 145 last year); 171 Jacob Halsey, St. Joseph senior (47-1, 152 last year); 171 Nicholas Blanchard, Whitehall senior (45-2, 152 in Division 3 last year); 189 Carson Crace, Lowell junior (23-9, 160 last year).
Additional No. 1 seeds: 103 Ja'Marcus Smith, Detroit Mumford senior (16-1); 112 Jackson Blum, Lowell freshman (33-3); 140 Jacob Brya, St. Johns senior (38-0); 171 Cameron Macklem, Goodrich senior (42-3); 189 Adam Haselius, Jackson Northwest junior (41-1); 215 Carter Blough, Lowell senior (33-2).
Also undefeated: 112 Connor Greer, Bay City John Glenn freshman (37-0); 171 Mikus Bishop, Harper Woods sophomore (17-0); 215 James Campbell, Mattawan senior (33-0); 285 Joshua Cook, Ferndale senior (49-0).
PHOTO St. Joseph's Nolan Wertanen, top, works toward a pin during Friday's Division 2 Team Quarterfinals. (Click to see 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 [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.)