Davis Becomes Dundee's Latest Member of 4-4 Club with Individual Sweep
By Drew Ellis
Special for Second Half
March 4, 2023
DETROIT – Winning four MHSAA Individual Finals wrestling titles is quite an accomplishment.
Winning eight total wrestling championships is even more impressive.
But, that’s becoming somewhat commonplace for the Dundee wrestling program.
On Saturday, Dundee senior Braeden Davis (41-0) became the fifth wrestler in MHSAA history to win a fourth individual wrestling state championship to go with four team state championships as he defeated Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Michael Wilson (32-4), 3-1, in the 138-pound Division 3 final.
Three of the five four-four winners have come from the Dundee program, as Davis joined Stoney Buell (2018-21) and Casey Swiderski (2019-22).
“It means a lot. I am glad and proud for myself. It’s a great privilege and great accomplishment,” Davis said of joining the four-time winner club. “It means a lot to (join the other two with eight titles). We trained a lot together. We all managed to succeed and get things done.”
Davis hadn’t seen a third round in his previous three Individual Finals weekends and still hadn’t until Saturday. The first two rounds of the championship match were scoreless before Davis got an escape to start the third and then finally scored a takedown later in the round to go up 3-0.
“I try not to think about (winning quickly) because that is something that can make me nervous. I just try to drown it out and not think about that,” Davis said. “I just had to wrestle smart and keep my hands down. I managed to hit a nice little go-behind.”
Davis was one of seven Dundee wrestlers to capture an individual championship Saturday.
Champion: Haydn Nutt, Dundee, Fr. (38-6)
Major Decision, 12-2, over Mason Haines, Dundee, Fr. (28-8)
A pair of Dundee freshmen collided in the 106-pound final, with Nutt scoring a decision over teammate Haines.
“It is kind of fun,” Nutt said of wrestling his teammate. “It was pretty exhausting, but it was fun. We’ve been wrestling since we were like 8, so we basically know everything about each other. I was just moving, scoring and shooting. That’s what was working.”
The two have had more competitive battles in the past, but Nutt was bringing an extra level of intensity in the championship bout.
“My blood was pumping the entire time,” Nutt said. “I felt like I had so much energy, and I couldn’t get rid of it.”
Champion: Dale Gant, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Fr. (39-6)
Decision, 2-1, over Talan Parsons, Ovid-Elsie, Jr. (50-1)
Gant knew he needed his best to get past the unbeaten Parsons. After a scoreless first period, Gant managed to secure a takedown in the second and then avoid getting put on his back in the third to hand Parsons his lone blemish of the season.
“I was just trying to stick to my stuff and not let him get comfortable,” Gant said. “I have lost to him in the past, so I knew what to expect from him.”
Following the victory, the GRCC freshman dove into his coaches’ arms, with his coaches perhaps even more excited than the new champion.
“This means a lot. I have been thinking about this day for years,” Gant said. “It’s been playing over and over in my mind. It’s just an amazing feeling.”
Champion: Kade Kluce, Dundee, Jr. (42-5)
Major Decision, 14-4, over Noah Harris, Richmond, Sr. (41-6)
Kluce has set himself up to possibly be the next in line for eight wrestling championships.
The Dundee junior claimed his third individual title Saturday to go along with three team titles.
“I feel I could have done better,” Kluce said. “I was hoping for a tech fall and I was close, but didn’t quite get it. But, I am still proud of myself.”
Kluce won the 103-pound title in 2021 and the 112-pound title a year ago.
“It feels easier as I go along,” Kluce said of the third title. “I have gotten used to the environment and just look to score as much as I can.”
Champion: Cameron Chinavare, Dundee, Jr. (37-2)
Decision, 3-0, over Gavyn Merchant, Kingsley, Jr. (44-2)
In a pretty defensive matchup, Chinavare rode out a first-round takedown to an eventual victory over a familiar opponent in Merchant.
“It was a dog fight out there. We just went out and scrapped. I had fun,” Chinavare said. “I knew his shot pretty well, and he just couldn’t get in on it.”
Chinavare was the 125-pound champion a year ago and used his big-match experience to keep Merchant from scoring.
“There is no better feeling than to win a state title,” Chinavare said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Champion: Kaden Chinavare, Dundee, Sr. (41-6)
Decision, 5-4, over Gianni Tripp, Alma, Sr. (51-6)
After scoring three first-round pins to reach the 138-pound final, Chinavare was pushed to the limit.
Tripp led 4-2 in the third period following a takedown, but Chinavare dug deep and got an escape before eventually getting the championship-winning takedown in the closing moments.
“I have been there a lot this whole season. My coach always just tells me to stay calm,” Chinavare said of the close match. “I just had to breath and get through those closing seconds. It was tough.”
Despite the lopsided wins earlier in the weekend, Chinavare knows that Saturday’s final is the kind of match that will make him a better wrestler.
“I just never stop the grind,” Chinavare said. “Even now, I will be wrestling again in a few days. The grind just doesn’t stop, and that’s what it takes.”
Champion: Camden Johnecheck, Williamston, Sr. (44-2)
Decision, 7-6, over Blake Cosby, Dundee, Fr. (42-7)
Johnecheck is all that kept Dundee’s wrestling program from crowning a record-tying eight individual champions Saturday.
The senior was down 5-0 early to Cosby, but rallied to even the match at 5-5. An escape from Cosby got him back in the lead, but Johnecheck managed to surge his way to a takedown in the closing seconds to win.
“I am known for my conditioning, and I felt like if I could make it to the third period, I could make up some ground,” Johnecheck said. “I had to go for something late, so I went for my single-leg and it just worked out.”
Knowing it was his final match, Johnecheck made sure he ended it on a high note.
“It’s always nice to be able to beat someone of his caliber,” Johnecheck said. “As a senior, it was my last match, and I didn’t want to have it be a loss to a freshman, so I had to lay it all out on the line.”
Champion: Kole Katschor, Dundee, Soph. (43-9)
Decision, 5-4 (OT), over Cole Karasinski, Grand Rapids West Catholic, Sr. (44-1)
Katschor held a 3-0 lead, but Karasinski managed to tie the match at the buzzer with a takedown to force OT with the score tied 4-4.
After a scoreless minute, Katschor managed to ride out Karasinski, and then earn an escape to score the 150-pound title.
“I just tried to ride him out and I knew if I could do that, I could get an escape on him,” Katschor said.
The title was the first of this Finals for Dundee, setting the tone for a big night for the program.
“It was a hard match, but I just really wanted that title,” Katschor said. “It is a sweet feeling to be able to get it.”
Champion: Aiden Davis, Dundee, Sr. (44-2)
Decision, 5-2, over Tyler Schofield, Olivet, Jr. (47-1)
After finishing runner-up in 2020, Davis completed a third-consecutive championship run. The two were tied at 1-1 during the third period, but Davis used his Finals experience to prevail.
“I felt pretty good during the match. (Schofield) wasn’t shooting much, so I felt like I was controlling the pace of the match and felt pretty comfortable,” Davis said.
Davis was the 135-pound champion in 2021 and the 145-pound champion last year. He credits his success to the support from the Dundee faithful.
“You see a sea of blue in the D3 section, and it’s amazing because they feed me energy,” Davis said. “The environment that Dundee provides is unlike any other.”
Champion: Kyan Fessenden, Kingsley, Sr. (41-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Connor Owens, Flint Powers Catholic, Sr. (26-2)
With his prep career winding down, Fessenden knew he had to pull out some magic.
Trailing 3-2 to Owens, the Kingsley senior fought his way to scoring a reversal in the closing seconds. That proved to be the difference.
“This was the last match of my high school career. You have to go big or go home, so that’s what I did,” Fessenden said.
The victory kept Owens from repeating as champion, while giving Fessenden his first title.
“It feels amazing. (Owens) is a great competitor, and being able to beat him makes it even more special,” Fessenden said. “He really pushed me to my limit.”
Champion: Noah Etnyre, Lutheran Westland, Sr. (46-3)
Fall, 2:35, over Gavin Craner, Belding, Soph. (53-5)
Only one pinfall victory occurred in the Division 3 Finals on Saturday, and that went to Etnyre.
He trailed Craner 2-0 early, but managed a quick escape and eventually secured a takedown early in the second period that led to a pin.
“I felt like I had better hips, and I felt like I would be able to win the scrambles with him. That’s what set up the win,” Etnyre said.
Etnyre was the Division 4 171-pound runner-up in 2022 and felt like Saturday’s victory was a nice redemption story to end his career.
“This feels great. It has been my goal since freshman year to win a state title,” Etnyre said. “I am just blessed to be here and be able to be a champion.”
Champion: Bryson Hughes, Reed City, Sr. (50-2)
Decision, 5-3 (OT), over Troy Demas, Constantine, Sr. (50-2)
A takedown in sudden victory was the difference as Hughes got past Demas.
“It was all about working. Just always work. Nothing is ever settled, you have to settle it yourself,” Hughes said. “That was a great challenge. (Demas) is a great athlete and an excellent wrestler. It was just about pushing myself to be the best.”
Each wrestler led during regulation, but were evenly matched. A fatigued Hughes could barely put into words how he felt about winning.
“It hasn’t quite hit me yet, but I know that in the days to come I am going to be very happy,” Hughes said.
Champion: Elizin Rouse, Kingsford, Jr. (35-4)
Decision, 5-3 (OT), over Bennett VandenBerg, Constantine, Jr. (54-2)
March is known for upsets, but the 11th-seeded Rouse provided one of the all-time upsets when he won the 215-pound championship this weekend.
“I knew the seeding wasn’t right. They haven’t watched me wrestle,” Rouse said of his seeding. “It’s no hate to them, they were just doing their job, but I had to prove them wrong.”
The junior from the Upper Peninsula needed overtime to get past VandenBerg. After trailing 2-0 in the second period, Rouse fought his way back and took a 3-2 lead in the third before VandenBerg forced OT with an escape.
In the extra period, Rouse powered his way to a takedown.
“We were both tired. I could hear him breathing heavy, and I know I was breathing heavy,” Rouse said. “I was just trying to push through to represent the boys from the U.P.”
Champion: Shane Cook, Whitehall, Sr. (62-0)
Decision, 9-5, over Landen Roe, Birch Run, Sr. (44-7)
The top seed and unbeaten Cook took control and never looked back. Going up 5-0 early in the second period, Cook was never in much danger of losing the 285-pound title match.
“The game plan was just to let it fly like I do any other match. Ultimately this match is just like any other. I had to score points like I would my other matches,” Cook said. “I was aggressive, and I was really happy with my performance.”
Saturday’s championship capped an impressive 62-0 record for the senior.
“It’s a pretty unreal feeling,” Cook said. “It hasn’t fully hit me yet. I’m trying to let it hit me, but it just hasn’t yet. I’m extremely happy right now, and I’m sure I’ll never forget this moment.”
PHOTOS (Top) Dundee’s Braeden Davis, top, works toward a win over Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Michael Wilson on Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) Kingsley’s Kyan Fessenden, left, shows his chart after defeating a past champion in his Finals bout. (Click for more from High School Sports Scene.)
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@example.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.)