DCC Brothers Double Up on Upsets

March 1, 2014

By Nick Hankins
Special to Second Half 

AUBURN HILLS – A set of brothers sent The Palace crowd into a frenzy Saturday night at the MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals.

Detroit Catholic Central’s Myles and Malik Amine did so, as Myles, a junior, upset two-time Davison champion Justin Oliver 6-5 in overtime in their 140-pound title match. Malik Amine followed with a 34-second pin of previously-undefeated Alec Pantaleo of Canton.

“(DCC coach Mitch Hancock) prepares us to wrestle just like we are drilling,” Myles Amine said. “Oliver is a tough wrestler. He took me down right off the bat, and I found a way to battle back. Oliver has beat me four times before tonight; this is the first time I have beaten him. He is a great competitor. We are great friends and wrestled together all summer.

“Conditioning was a big part of this match. I had to keep my composure throughout the match, and my conditioning paid off in the end.”

Conditioning was not a factor in his brother's victory.

“Unreal just to go out there and compete against Alec,” Malik Amine said. “He is one of the most explosive wrestlers in the country. It is awesome that both my brother and I won back-to-back state titles.

“My mindset was to put him away. We have prepared for him all week. My dad always said when you get an opponent on his back, do not let him up. I went out and I expected to win. This is great momentum going into my career next year at Michigan.”

The win also avenged Malik Amine’s loss to Pantaleo in the Finals two years ago.


Champion: Ben Freeman, Walled Lake Central, Fr. (43-1)
Technical Fall, 20-5 in 4:31 over Carl Antrassian, Monroe, Soph. (48-5)

To win four MHSAA titles in your high school career, you have to win your first.

And sometimes that first one is not the easiest.

That's what Freeman said after winning his first as a ninth grader.

“I feel amazing,” Freeman said. “I am enjoying this moment. My coaches gave me confidence to wrestle tough this weekend. My goal is to win four state championships, and I got the toughest one out of the way. This tournament is more mental than physical, so I had to keep focused for three days to get it done.”


Champion: Max Johnson, Davison, Soph. (42-7)
Fall, 1:53, over Alex Hrisopoulos, Oxford, Soph. (48-9)

Johnson had enough time on the mat during this MHSAA tournament. So he decided to shorten the time in the Final.

Johnson got his only pin at The Palace in the championship match, but showed dominance throughout the tournament. He also beat returning champion Benny Gomez from Holt 12-6 in the Semifinal. 

“My game plan was to go out and wrestle six tough minutes and whatever happens, happens,” Johnson said. “I saw an opening and took advantage of it to get the fall.”


Champion: Trevor Zdebski, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (27-2)
Decision, 3-0 over Martin Rodriguez, Holt, Sr. (45-2)

Zdebski had a tough road to The Palace this year. He started his season with a broken hand, an injury that required time off. His first week of competition was the Detroit Catholic Central Super Duals, and he started the season 0-2.

His performance from that point on was flawless.

“I knew I had to get on my offense going right away and push the pace,” Zdebski said. “Nobody works as hard as we do at CC, so I knew if I got up early I could wear him down and control the match.” 


Champion: Lincoln Olson, Davison, Jr. (45-1)
Technical Fall, 22-7 in 5:39 over Kyle Noonan, Rochester Hills Stoney Creek, Sr. (48-3)

Olson may have had the most dominating performance of all at the Division 1 Finals. He did the unthinkable, winning by technical fall in each of his four matches.

When his hand was raised, he held up three fingers toward the Davison crowd. He had just dominated his way to his third title.

“I am not training for state championships,” Olson said. “I am training for NCAA championships. My goal for the weekend was to dominate and to tech fall my way through the tournament. I knew if I opened up my offense that I would be unstoppable.” 


Champion: Ben Griffin, Canton, Sr. (50-3)
Decision, 5-1 over Ben Calandrino, Howell, Sr. (52-2) 

Ben Griffin came to the Finals this year with one goal in mind – to win a title.

He came up short two years ago, falling in the Final to Mitch Rogaliner from Temperance Bedford 9-5. 

But this was Griffin's year. He beat Calandrino 5-1, his second win this season over the Howell opponent. With 20 seconds left and trailing by one, Griffin hit a Peterson roll for the reversal and back points as time expired.

“I kept my composure with time running down and went back to what I do best on bottom,” Griffin said. “I am very happy to win a state championship. It’s a lot better crying tears of joy than tears of sadness. Ben and I are great friends and will be teammates next year at Eastern Michigan.”


Champion: Austin Eicher, Hartland, Sr., (39-1)
Decision, 4-2 over Collin Tomkins, Grandville, Sr. (36-5)

Eicher finally got to celebrate his championship on the mat.

He won an MHSAA title last year by beating his teammate Jacob Gorial 5-0, and he ended the match embraced in a hug with his teammate instead.

This year was different.

When his hand was raised he held up two fingers to the Hartland cheering section after completing his wrestling career with 205 wins and two championships. He is the first four-time MHSAA Finals placer in the storied Hartland program.

“I had a bad injury last week at team state finals tearing cartilage and muscle between my rib,” Eicher said. “This was the most important match of my life, and I was not going to let pain get in the way of a victory. I think God was testing my will to win this year.”


Champion: Nick Bennett, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (43-0)
Major Decision, 9-1 over Dominic Latora, Portage Central, Sr. (46-2)

Bennett was not a well known name in Michigan before the 2013-2014 season.

He was a two time state champion in Texas before moving back to Michigan to compete during his senior year. He won an MHSAA championship in dominating fashion with two falls and two major decisions.

“It has been a very gratifying year winning a team state championship and finishing with an individual state championship,” Bennett said. “I have the best training partners in the state with the Amine brothers. I wrestled very controlled and conservative this weekend and opened up when I had the opportunity to score. My game plan was to control ties and score on my feet and push my opponents. Coach (Mitch) Hancock did an excellent job getting us prepared this year.”


Champion: Jordan Atienza, Livonia Franklin, Sr. (64-1)
Decision, 10-5 over Dakota Juarez, Grand Haven, Sr. (41-1)

Jordan Atienza cruised through the tournament this year with a pin in his first round and a technical fall in the Quarterfinal match.

He then beat Jake Johnson of Macomb Dakota with a major decision, 13-5, in his Semifinal.

Atienza lost to Nick Vandermeer of Clarkston last year in the 152-pound Final and used the loss as a motivating factor to get the job done this year.

“I finally got the monkey off my back,” Atienza said. “I have been thinking about that Finals match for a year and I got it done. I am a state champ. I put in a lot of hours in the offseason so I would not have to go through what I went through last year. My gameplan was to dominate on my feet and score points.”


Champion: Drew Garcia, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (41-1)
Decision, 5-2 over Devan Richter, Harrison Twp. L’Anse Creuse, Sr. (53-2)

Garcia finished his career in fine fashion, winning his third individual championship Saturday and third team championship last weekend.

He beat Richter for the second time in two weeks.

Garcia had arguably the toughest weight class at The Palace in Division 1 this year. He defeated two-time champion Jordan Cooks of Davison in the Semifinal, 2-1 in overtime. Garcia finished off Catholic Central’s run in the Finals to become the team’s fifth individual champion this year.

“It is a great feeling to be in such an elite class of three-time state champs,” Garcia said. “I knew coming into the weekend this was going to be a very tough tournament with all of the tough competition at 171. We wrestled great this weekend, finishing with (eight) individual placers.”


Champion: Shwan Shadaia, Rochester, Sr. (44-3)
Fall, 5:56 over Derek Hillman, Brownstown-Woodhaven, Sr. (48-3)

Shadaia finished his career with another championship, leaving his legacy at Rochester High. 

He avenged a loss earlier in the year to Hillman. It was Shadaia’s second straight title.

“He is a tough wrestler, and I am just happy I won,” Shadaia said. “He beat me pretty good this year. I just wanted to be a two-time state champ, and leave a legacy on my school. I stayed in good position and stuck to my gameplan to get the win.”


Champion: Jordon Brandon, Westland John Glenn, Sr. (54-2)
Decision, 3-1 over Matt Okaiye, Waterford Kettering, Sr. (40-2)

Brandon worked hard all year to grab what he thought he should have last year.

An MHSAA championship. 

“I am very happy that I won a state championship this year,” Brandon said. “I would like to thank my grandmother. She has been with me throughout.

“Matt is a tough kid and I knew I had to stop his double to win this year. I should have had a state championship last year but I came up short. I worked hard all summer … to prepare for this.”


Champion: Parker Tillman, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Sr. (46-0)
Decision, 3-2 UTB over Brian Darios, East Lansing, Jr. (40-2)

Parker Tillman took nothing for granted at this year's Finals – even though he was a runner-up last year. 

Tillman won the title this time with 3-2 ultimate tiebreaker overtime win over Darios. It was the same result Tillman had over Darios at Regionals, when he pinned him in the third overtime.

“I feel great to have won a state championship,” Tillman said. “I was very nervous about every match down here. I came close last year but fell short in the Finals. I was hurt at Regionals and had to wrestle tough. I promised my coach I would win a state championship for him.

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PHOTO: Detroit Catholic Central's Malik Amine has his hand raised in victory during the Division 1 Individual Finals. (Click to see more fromHigh 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.

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.)