D4 Preview: Return of Familiar Championship Match Anticipated

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

February 23, 2022

After a few seasons with a new champion changing things up in Division 4, expectations are we'll see the return this weekend of one of our most familiar MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals title-deciding matchups.

With two-time reigning champion Clinton now in Division 3, Hudson and New Lothrop occupy the top two seeds heading into Friday's Quarterfinals at Wings Event Center. They are lined up to see each other in Saturday's finale, just as they did five straight seasons from 2014-18.

Division 4 Quarterfinals – matchups below – begin at noon Friday at Wings’ Arena, with Semifinals at 9:30 Saturday morning and the championship match at 3:45 p.m.

#1 Hudson (19-4) vs. #8 LeRoy Pine River (27-11)
#4 St. Louis (23-3) vs. #5 Decatur (24-6)
#3 Bronson (32-6) vs. #6 Manchester (21-6)
#2 New Lothrop (21-2) vs. #7 Iron Mountain (19-3)

Tickets for Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals will be sold by the Wings Event Center box office. All matches for all three rounds also will be viewable on MHSAA.tv with subscription.

Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 4, listed by seed.

19-4, No. 1
League finish: Tied for second in Lenawee County Athletic Association
Coach: Scott Marry, 34th season (862-198)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2019), four runner-up finishes. 
Individual Finals qualifiers: 119 Cole Marry (18-12) soph., 125 Austin Marry (21-11) soph., 130 Jackson Miller (23-10) sr., 130 Kannon Marry (16-7) jr., 135 Payton Rogers (27-6) sr., 140 Bronson Marry (21-2) sr., 145 Aden Barrett (26-12) jr., 152 Calix Campbell (27-11) jr., 171 Logan Ryan (16-21) soph., 189 Cameron Kimble (37-1) sr., 215 Logan Sallows (27-8) jr.  
Outlook: Hudson is back as the top seed with no end to its success in sight as the starting lineup includes only six seniors, while seven of 11 Individual Finals qualifiers have one or more high school seasons remaining. Bronson Marry was the individual runner-up last season at 130 and won 112 as a sophomore, and six other 2021 individual placers also are back – Cole Marry, Rogers, Austin Marry, senior Tristan Bolenbaugh, Miller and Barrett. The Tigers emerged from a league that also includes Clinton and reigning Division 3 champion Dundee.   

21-2, No. 2
League finish: First in Mid-Michigan Activities Conference
Coach: Jeff Campbell, 21st season (525-97)
Championship history: 15 MHSAA championships (most recent 2016), seven runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Blake Wendling (28-14) fr., 112 Daven Lockwood (29-12) jr., 130 Dalton Birchmeier (27-10) fr., 145 Jack Kulhanek (37-13) soph., 189 Cooper Symons (19-4) sr., Grayson Orr (42-4) jr., 285 Isiah Pasik (40-0) sr.
Outlook: New Lothrop returned to its first Final last season since 2018 and finished runner-up, and is expected to reach the championship match again with a much younger lineup featuring only two seniors. Pasik is the returning champion at 285 and hasn’t lost a match since his sophomore season, and junior Brady Gross also is a returning Finals placer.

32-6, No. 5
League finish: Second in Big 8 Conference
Coach: Chad Butters, ninth season (226-60)
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2002 and 2003.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Aiden Fill (38-12) soph., 119 Perry Lake (42-11) jr., 145 Devlin Duff (29-19) jr., 152 Carson Norton (29-15) soph., 171 Jacob Britten (41-14) soph., 189 Jacob Dixon (28-15) jr.
Outlook: The Vikings are back at the Finals for the first time since 2017, and with only one senior starter are built to return. They defeated No. 4 Union City and Springport to advance this time and have reached Regionals all nine seasons under Butters. Junior Mathew Blankenship (43-12 at 214) leads the team in wins this winter, and eight regulars have at least 30.

23-3, No. 3
League finish: First in Tri-Valley Conference West
Coach: Kevin Kuhn, 16th season (298-104)
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Colin Kuhn (34-4) fr., 112 Robert Long-Terwilliger (23-13) sr., 130 Dylan Marr (17-9) jr., 135 Nate March (30-10) sr., 145 Martine Wiggins (32-7) fr., 171 Justice Onstott (33-7) jr., 215 Ben Dousuah (19-7) sr., 285 Braden Ball (25-8) sr.
Outlook: The Sharks are coming off their first Regional championship since 1995, and none of four postseason opponents got closer than 34 points of catching them. Onstott is a returning Finals placer after claiming seventh at 189 last season. Three of the team’s top five winners are freshmen; Genaro Soto (28-17 at 125) joins Colin Kuhn and Wiggins in that group.

24-6, No. 10
League finish: First in Southwest 10 Conference
Coach: Mitchell Kennedy, fifth season (65-59)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 130 Dart Avery (33-12) fr., 140 Andrew Confer (41-6) sr., 189 Gavin Boodt (40-4) sr., 285 Tanner Shugars (30-8) soph.
Outlook: Decatur is returning to Finals weekend for the first time since 2016 off a third-straight District title, and the future is bright with 11 freshman and sophomore starters. Confer was seventh at 130 last season, and junior Braydon Ross (15-3 at 285) also is a returning Finals placer. Total, seven Raiders have won at least 30 matches this season, and Brett Clauser – the team’s only other senior – is right there with 28.  

21-6, No. 7
League finish: Tied for first in Cascades Conference
Coach: Steve Vlcek, 32nd season (678-222)
Championship history: Division 4 runner-up 2008.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Onyx Ostrom (21-24) fr., 112 Jacob Bunn (41-2) sr., 119 Jared Bunn (44-4) sr., 135 Mason Schmitt (41-4) jr., 135 Adam Grebe (33-15) fr., 171 Garett Pope (39-5) sr.
Outlook: After missing last season, Manchester is back at the Finals coming off four-point wins over Laingsburg and Lutheran Westland at the Regional. Pope, Jared Bunn and Jacob Bunn all are returning Finals placers and among even starters with at least 30 wins. Those three also are the only seniors as the team starts nine underclassmen.

19-3, No. 9
League finish: First in Mid-Peninsula Conference
Coach: Cory McLaren, fifth season (66-42)
Championship history: Five Upper Peninsula Finals championships, three UP runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Alexander Wilson (31-8) soph., 119 Tyler Winch (28-13) soph., 119 Shawn McGuire (34-2) jr., 125 Daniel Manier (27-11) fr., 140 Isaac Manier (36-6) sr., 145 Evan Haferkorn (35-6) jr., 152 Parker Stroud (36-6) sr., 152 Kivi Mason (21-7) soph., 171 Fulton Stroud (29-5) soph.
Outlook: The Mountaineers are among the most intriguing teams making the trip to Kalamazoo as they return to Finals weekend for the first time since 2011. The team has only two seniors and 15 wrestlers total, but the second-most Individual Finals qualifiers in Division 4. McGuire, Haferkorn and Parker Stroud all were Finals placers last season. Among postseason wins was a 41-39 victory over Bark River-Harris, which also was ranked in Division 4 at times this winter.

27-11, No. 8
League finish: Third in Mid-Michigan Wrestling Conference
Coach: Terry Martin, second season (47-17)
Championship history: Class C runner-up 1991.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Bryant Wing (11-10) fr., 119 Jordan Nelson (37-15) jr., 140 Ryder Holmes (36-8) soph., 145 Wyatt Underhill (36-14) sr., 152 Phil Rigling (44-9) sr., 160 Cayden Mys (41-12) sr., 171 Rogan Nelson (32-13) sr., 215 Andrew Baldwin (21-16) soph.
Outlook: Pine River is another strong lower seed with eight individual qualifiers from a tradition-rich program. Martin, who also serves as Pine River’s football coach, was a wrestling assistant under former coach Tim Jones for nearly the entirety of Jones’ 20 seasons and 654 wins. Martin has led the team to District titles the last two seasons, and seven seniors and two juniors anchor this lineup.

PHOTO St. Louis, here wrestling during the Division 4 Individual District at Carson City-Crystal, is back at Team Finals weekend for the first time since 1995. (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.)