D3 Preview: Rivals Seeded to Meet Again

February 22, 2018

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Dundee and Richmond have met in six of the last eight Division 3 Team Finals, but none carried as much anticipation as this weekend’s possible rematch is building.

Richmond claimed last season’s MHSAA title on a tie-breaker after the teams tied 28-28. They're expected to see each other again Saturday at Wings Events Center – although undefeated Remus Chippewa Hills is among six other quarterfinalists that will try to break through instead.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 3, listed by seed. Quarterfinal matches begin at 4:30 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.

#1 Dundee

Record/rank: 14-3, No. 1
League finish: First in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Tim Roberts, 19th season (494-69-1)
Championship history: Nine MHSAA championships (most recent 2016), seven runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Austin Fietz (30-12) fr., 112 Tyler Swiderski (27-10) fr., 119 Jonathon White (29-10) jr., 125 Daniel Jaworski (22-11) sr., 130 Christian Killion (28-8) soph., 135 Stoney Buell (36-4) fr., 140 Grant Ott (27-8) jr., 145 McCallister McAvoy (30-10) jr., 152 Zachary Bellaire (36-7) sr., 160 Tylor Orrison (38-3) sr., 171 Jaxon Guinn (29-8) soph., 189 Kyle Reinhart (33-13) sr., 189 Kyle Motylinski (33-8) sr., 215 Brandon Whitman (40-0) sr.
 As noted above, Dundee led by six senior starters should be as motivated as ever. The team qualified all 14 wrestlers for the Individual Finals – headlined by three-time champ Whitman. Bellaire and Orrison also won MHSAA individual titles last season, and White and Killion placed. The Vikings gave up 11 points to No. 9 Ida in the District Final but shut out their other three postseason opponents.

#2 Richmond

Record/rank: 19-5, No. 2
League finish: First in Blue Water Area Conference
Co-coaches: Brandon Day, 14th season (428-93); Preston Treend, second season (46-7) 
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2017), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 JD Gross (22-8) soph., 112 Daniel McNichol (31-9) jr., 119 Josh Barton (24-13) soph., 135 Alec Ziza (24-9) sr., 140 Hayden Bastian (26-8) jr., 145 Ethan Wyatt (21-14) jr., 145 Alex Roberts (30-5) sr., 152 Eric Barr (16-4) jr., 160 David Kaltz (22-7) sr., 189 Luke Davis (35-8) soph., 215 Colton McKiernan (37-1) sr., 285 Tyler Marino (25-4) sr.
Outlook: This will make a decade of consecutive Quarterfinals appearances for the Blue Devils, who eliminated No. 6 Algonac in the District along the way. McKiernan and Marino were Individual Finals runners-up last season, and Roberts also placed. Those three are among five senior starters and nine upperclassmen total expected to take the mat.

#3 Remus Chippewa Hills

Record/rank: 23-0, No. 3
League finish: First in Central State Activities Association Gold
Coach: Nate Ethridge, 18th season (515-93)
Championship history: Division 3 runner-up 2016.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Carson Hayes (40-7) fr., 125 Bray Haynes (36-7) jr., 145 Austin Young (43-5) sr., 152 Jaycob Sharp (9-2) sr., 171 Robert Granberry (40-5) sr., 189 Chayton Wiggins (37-7) soph. 215 Jared Bean (33-8) sr., 215 Billy Koepf (37-3) sr., 285 Andrew Vinton (35-7) sr., 285 Colby Roosa (37-5) fr.
Outlook: After breaking through to the championship match for the first time in 2016, Chippewa Hills fell to Dundee by just six points in last year’s Semifinal. The Warriors haven’t lost again. Sharp was an Individual Finals runner-up as a sophomore and a placer last winter, along with Granberry. The tough part is two of this year’s 10 qualifiers likely won’t compete in a given match – Chippewa Hills has multiple at both 215 and 285. But nine expected starters have at least 30 wins, as do four subs.

#4 Whitehall

Record/rank: 30-3, No. 4
League finish: First in West Michigan Conference
Coach: Cliff Sandee, 11th season (261-39)
Championship history: Lower Peninsula Class C runner-up 1984.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 135 Tom Balakovitz (40-8) sr., 145 Trenton Blanchard (40-9) jr., 160 Derek McCollom (36-8) sr., 171 Kayleb Venema (46-4) soph., 189 Allen Powers (45-4) jr.
Outlook: Whitehall nearly broke into the Semifinals for the second season in a row last year, and a team with six senior starters is forecast to advance this time after coming in seeded fifth the last two Quarterfinals. Powers and junior Sam Baustert (112, 37-9) were individual placers a year ago, and senior past qualifier Josh Thommen (145, 15-6) also reportedly will return to the lineup this weekend after missing earlier rounds with an injury.

#5 Birch Run

Record/rank: 32-2, No. 5
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference East
Coach: Mike Miller, third season (88-11)
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Christian Miller (40-14) soph., 119 Mac Breece (53-3) soph., 130 Kyle Parlberg (34-18) jr., 140 Mason Breece (52-3) sr., 152 Trenton Naragon (46-6) jr., 189 Brockton Cook (52-4) jr.
 This will be Birch Run’s fifth trip to the Semifinals over the last seven seasons after the Panthers missed a year ago. They gave up an average of just 16 points over their four District and Regional matches. Mason Breece, Mac Breece and Miller all placed at the Individual Finals last season and bolster an expected lineup with just three seniors but five 40-match winners.

#6 Dowagiac

Record/rank: 25-9, unranked
League finish: Second in Wolverine Conference
Coach: Colin Burandt, third season (52-25)
Championship history: Two MHSAA runner-up finishes (most recent 1998).  
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Kody Walker (45-6) sr., 189 Justin Lyle (41-11) sr.
 Dowagiac will return to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2004 after upsetting No. 7 Lake Odessa Lakewood in the Regional Final. The Chieftains have more than doubled their number of wins from last season under Burandt, previously a Finals individual placer and later assistant coach at Niles. Walker is one of four seniors in the expected lineup and was a Finals placer in 2017.

#7 Alma

Record/rank: 32-9, No. 8
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference Central
Co-coaches: Randy Miniard, seventh season (153-85) 
Championship history: Has not appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Nolan Rodriguez (39-9) fr., 119 Dametrius Castillo (33-6) fr., 130 Jarrett Ferman (41-11) soph., 152 Justin VanBlaricum (40-15) soph., 285 Greg Simmons (35-6) sr.
 A year after leading Alma to its first league title since 1992, Miniard has the Panthers at the MHSAA Quarterfinals for the first time in program history. Five seniors are joined by nine underclassmen, including five freshmen, in the expected starting lineup. Alejandro Rosas (140, 32-5) didn’t make the Individual Finals this season but was a placer in 2017.

#8 Comstock Park

Record/rank: 22-10, unranked
League finish: Third in Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue
Coach: Jim Olson, 30th season (457-225) 
Championship history: Class C champion 1974, runner-up 1980.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Bailey Borgeld (41-7) jr., 130 Zion Taylor (42-8) jr., 135 Austin Sanders (32-13) jr., 140 Christian Maldonado (39-11) jr., 160 Nick Brill (27-14) sr., 215 Joe Nagle (48-0) sr. 
Outlook: Comstock Park last made the Quarterfinals in 2015, in Division 2, and also has won three District titles over the last four seasons. Nagle and Borgeld also were Individual Finals qualifiers last year and help pace a lineup with seven 30-win wrestlers.

PHOTO: Dundee’s Christian Killion (left) and Richmond’s Alec Ziza locked up for a 1-0 decision win for Killion at 125 pounds during last season’s Division 3 Final. (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 keithdunlap78@gmail.com 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.)