DCC Wins D1 Clash of Annual Contenders
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
February 29, 2020
KALAMAZOO – Brendin Yatooma was blocking out all of the noise Saturday at Wings Events Center.
The Detroit Catholic Central senior 215-pounder proudly hoisted the Division 1 MHSAA Team Wrestling Finals championship trophy over his head, a smile plastered on his face as the Shamrocks crowd roared in approval.
Yatooma and his teammates had just claimed the school’s fourth straight title, defeating Davison 34-23 in a match that pitted rival powerhouses and drew heightened emotions across an entire corner of the arena.
“It means a ton to us. It means a ton to the community,” Yatooma said. “Being able to come out here and make history, especially with how rich in wrestling we are as a school. Just being able to be remembered for that makes a huge impact on us. It’s something that we’ll never forget for the rest of our lives. It’s great.”
The title was the 14th in Catholic Central history, but this was the first time the school had won four in a row.
Emotions ran highest during a pivotal match at 189 pounds, which featured two of the state’s best wrestlers in Davison’s Alex Facundo and Catholic Central’s Manny Rojas. Facundo, a two-time Finals champion who has committed to Penn State, was leading 5-2 in the second period when he was called for an illegal move.
Rojas was evaluated on the mat for a concussion, and it was determined he could not continue. Because the injury occurred on the illegal move, Catholic Central was awarded six points for the match, which gave the Shamrocks a 23-18 lead.
“Not the way we wanted it, but without that, we still win that dual by two points,” said DCC coach Mitch Hancock, who added that Rojas had been taken to a local hospital for further evaluation. “The big guys up top stepped up. It’s unfortunate; our thoughts and prayers are with Manny. We just hope he gets better quick.”
Davison’s acting coach Zac Hall – who was filling in for longtime coach Roy Hall, who had been in a car accident and couldn’t attend but is said to be doing well – echoed his team’s disappointment with how the match concluded.
“You even saw it in the atmosphere – it was very back and forth, electric. Then once that happened, it was kind of eerie silent,” Zac Hall said.
“I hope Manny is OK. I know Manny, I’ve trained Manny. He’s a really good kid. Like I said, I just wish things would have worked out differently and I wish that it could have been handled on the mat.”
Catholic Central (20-3) clinched the dual in the next two weight classes, as Yatooma and Steven Kolcheff picked up pins at 215 and 285, respectively. Davison (20-3) got decisions from Aden Williams (103) and Caden Horwath (112) to close out the dual.
“I didn’t tell (Yatooma) anything. He’s a veteran,” Hancock said. “He pinned his way through the individual state tournament last year. You don’t tell him anything, just wrestle.”
The two nationally-heralded teams battled it out throughout the dual, which featured a total of 16 wrestlers who were ranked either No. 1 or 2 in their weight class.
Catholic Central’s Dylan Gilcher bumped up a weight and opened the dual with a 6-5 win at 119 pounds. Davison countered with a pin by Andrew Chambal at 125 and an overtime win from Kyle White at 130 to take a 9-3 lead.
The Shamrocks went ahead 13-9 after Josh Edmond won by technical fall at 135, and Camden Trupp won by pin at 140.
Davison won three of the next four, however, and led 18-17 heading into the Facundo/Rojas match. James Johnston (145) and Josh Barr (152) each won close decisions, while Max Callahan won 11-5 at 171. Catholic Central’s one win in between was a 5-1 decision by Derek Gilcher at 160.
“Being a part of this is just spectacular,” Yatooma said. “I’m just speechless. I don’t have any words to describe the entire situation. It’s just something that can only be experienced.”
Davison, meanwhile, will have to focus its energy on coming back next season and stopping the Shamrocks from getting a fifth straight.
“This is already an incredibly motivated group,” Zac Hall said. “Nobody really aside from our community really gave us a shot to do this at the beginning of the year. (Catholic Central) came in ranked third in the country, and our guys came in and competed. As the year progressed, we got better. I think we came out here and put one hell of a show on. You can see in these guys’ faces how much passion, time and effort we’ve really put into this year. We’ll come back with a vengeance.”
Catholic Central defeated Temperance Bedford 68-6 in the Semifinal, while Davison defeated Brighton 35-29.
Trupp, Derek Gilcher, Rojas, Yatooma and Kolcheff all won three matches on the weekend for the Shamrocks. Chambal, White, Johnston, Barr and Horwath won three for Davison.
PHOTOS: (Top) Detroit Catholic Central’s Brendin Yatooma points to his team’s fans after his win at 215 pounds Saturday afternoon. (Middle) Yatooma battles Davison’s Jimmy Colley. (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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)