Delta County's Best Prep for Ford Field
By John Vrancic
Special for MHSAA.com
February 25, 2019
GLADSTONE – Two weeks have passed since the team season ended for Upper Peninsula wrestling teams.
Although, that doesn't mean it's over for all U.P. wrestlers.
Seven grapplers will represent Delta County at the MHSAA Individual Finals this Friday and Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit after placing among the top four in their respective weight classes in Regional meets.
All of them got together for practice last week at Gladstone Middle School.
"This is going to help me a lot," said Bark River-Harris freshman Avery Corrigan, who placed fourth at 103 pounds in a Division 4 Regional at Charlevoix. "I have people here my size who I've wrestled before. It feels great to be going to the state tournament. I felt confident going into the Regional and saw kids I hadn't seen before. It's going to be challenging, but I just have to stay confident. You just give it your all and treat it like any other tournament."
It was teammate vs. teammate for a Division 3 Regional championship at Kalkaska as Gladstone freshman Michael Brazeau pinned junior Lane Matzke 4 minutes, 49 seconds into the 103-pound final.
"We practice together," said Brazeau. "It was hard to make a move. It was a lot less intense than other matches because we knew what was coming. I didn't really care who won.
“It's looking very tough for 103 right now, but everybody's beatable. It feels like it's going to be pretty nerve-wracking, yet it's going to be exciting to go down there."
Matzke had similar thoughts about the Regional title bout.
"I didn't really care who won either,” he added. “The semifinal was the one that really mattered. We started laughing when we found out we were both in the finals.
“I went to the state tournament in my freshman year. It gets the butterflies out knowing I've been there before. I can't wait to get back there."
Junior teammate Cole Hansen (152) also captured a Regional title.
“It's quite an atmosphere down there,” Hansen said of the Finals. “I was pretty nervous when I went down there last year, but I'm more excited about going this year. My goal is to go down there and take first. I have to stay focused, get the right food in my body and drink a lot of water. I have to try to stay in good position. Last year I got out of position. This has been a good year so far."
This will be the first visit to the Finals for Gladstone senior Nick Dawson (130), who took fourth in the Regional at his weight.
"It feels real good to be going," he said. "This will be a great experience. It's going to be hard. It will also be exciting. I went down there to watch last year and there were a lot of mats, which motivated me to go down there this year."
Escanaba junior Hunter Larson (135) goes to the Motor City with the most MHSAA tournament experience among those in this group. He earned a third place in a Division 2 Regional at Gaylord last weekend and took sixth at 135 pounds at last year’s Finals.
"I started slowly in the Regional, then I got energized and my wrestling improved," said Larson, who won the Regional the past two years. "I'm a little disappointed I didn't get my third Regional. It will be a little longer road this time, but now I'll just have to trust in my ability.
“It definitely makes me less nervous after being (in Detroit) before. Everybody is pretty good once you get this far. I'm pretty excited about going back there."
Escanaba sophomore Collin Arnt (112) plans to take an offensive stance in Detroit.
"I have to wrestle aggressive," he said. "Hopefully, this will be a good experience. This was definitely one of my goals for this year. This is a real tough division. There will be some tough wrestlers. My goal is to place in the top eight."
PHOTO: Escanaba’s Hunter Larson wrestles this season at Marquette. (Photo courtesy of the Larson family.)
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 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.)