Division 1 Makes History Adding 3 to 4-Time Champions Honor Roll

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

March 4, 2023

DETROIT – Never in the history of the MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals had more than two wrestlers won their fourth title in the same year.

On Saturday, three accomplished the feat in Division 1 alone, including, for the first time ever, a pair of teammates.

Detroit Catholic Central’s Dylan Gilcher and Davison’s Josh Barr and Caden Horwath each won their fourth titles at Ford Field, joining an elite group that now numbers 35. 

“I’m honored to be a part of that group,” Barr said after his 17-5 major decision victory against Hartland’s Brayden Bobo at 175 pounds. “It means that everything I did paid off, and I’m not done yet, I’m just getting started. Me and Braeden (Davis of Dundee, who won his fourth title in Division 3) are going to Penn State together. Caden and Dylan are going to Michigan together. I grew up with Dylan and Caden in the Team Donahoe wrestling room, I’ve been wrestling with Dylan and Caden for a long, long time. Caden is one of my best friends. And Braeden, we probably met when I was 8 or 9. We all push each other, for sure.”

Barr and Horwath were the fourth and fifth Davison wrestlers to win four titles, joining Brent Metcalf (2002-05), Lincoln Olson (2012-15) and Alex Facundo (2018-21). 

“It’s pretty incredible just to be a part of something like that,” said Davison coach Zac Hall, who won four titles at St. Johns from 2011-14. “It’s crazy man, absolutely crazy. A couple years ago these kids were 2 feet smaller than me, and we’re playing dodgeball and kind of carefree. To see the level it’s gotten to, and these guys are obviously both in a situation to go on and do great things at the next level. It’s hard to even encapsulate in words. I’m just super proud of those two guys.”

Horwath claimed his fourth title with a 12-2 major decision against Grosse Pointe South’s Wyatt Hepner (39-7) at 126 pounds. His previous titles came at 103, 119 and 125.

“Just coming off the mat now, it feels pretty surreal,” said Horwath, who finished the season 22-1. “There’s no real feeling, I’m just happy right now. Happy me and my teammate did it, and my future teammate Dylan Gilcher, so that’s cool, too.”

Barr won his about an hour and a half earlier to finish off a 33-0 season. His previous titles came at 152, 160 and 171.

“I expected it of myself, so it feels like the right thing,” Barr said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet, all these people here, it’s awesome.”

It was also a record-tying day for Catholic Central, which had seven individual champions. The Shamrocks had seven champions in 2019, as well, a Division 1 record. Dundee holds the state record with eight in 2021.

Gilcher started it all off with a 20-4 technical fall in the second period against Travis Richards of Brighton (29-7) at 150 pounds. 

His previous titles came at 112, 135 and 140. He finished his senior season at 32-0, and became the second DCC wrestler to win a fourth title, joining Kevon Davenport (2016-19).

“It feels real great,” Gilcher said. “Kevon texted me today and said, ‘Make history.’ I said I didn’t want to be No. 2, but I’m glad I am. I’m really glad I was first (on the team to wrestle Saturday), because I was stressing out about my match. But now all the stress is gone and I can watch happy, just cheer on my team, don’t have to worry about getting tired yelling.”

Detroit Catholic Central's Dylan Gilcher and Brighton's Travis Richards wrestle at 150 pounds.


Champion: Wyatt Lees, Detroit Catholic Central, Fr. (42-10)
Decision, 3-2, over Brice LaFleur, Saline, Fr. (43-4)

Lees earned his third victory over LaFleur in four weeks, as the two had met in the District and Regional, as well.

“I felt good, I felt confident throughout the match,” Lees said. “I knew I put in the work and was ready for whatever was thrown at me. It was fun and a great opportunity.”

LaFleur was in the down position late in the match, and nearly was able to score a reversal in the final seconds, but Lees fought it off.

“I had an idea (of how much time was left),” Lees said. “But I was just going to wrestle through no matter what.”


Champion: Bohdan Abbey, Hartland, Fr. (44-3)
Major Decision, 13-5, over Archer Anderson, Clarkston, Soph. (27-9)

Abbey came into the match already owning a victory against Anderson this season, but he knew a second wouldn’t come easy.

“I had him earlier in the year, so I had some confidence going in, but anybody can be beat,” Abbey said. “It worked out my way. I wrestled smart, wrestled hard. It was a good match. It’s great, cause I’m only a freshman. I’ve been on other stages like this, but nothing is like the state tournament.”

Abbey held a 4-0 lead heading into the third period, and managed nine more points to put his first title away. For Anderson, it was a second-straight year placing, as he was fifth at 103 in 2022.


Champion: Caleb Weiand, Macomb Dakota, Sr. (47-0)
Decision, 5-3 (OT), over Josh Vasquez, Grandville, Soph. (41-3)

Weiand finished off an unbeaten season with his second-straight Finals title. The Michigan State-bound senior won at 112 pounds as a junior. He was runner-up at 103 as a sophomore.

“Two years ago, when I was a sophomore, I let the nerves get to me,” Weiand said. “Last year, I kicked that out, tried to get all the nerves away. This year, there were no nerves. I think it helps me perform way better.”

Vasquez forced overtime in the match with a takedown in the final seconds. But Weiand hit a beautiful duck under seconds into the extra frame to claim the victory.


Champion: Drew Heethuis, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (53-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Elijah Bunn, Rockford, Jr. (52-3)

Heethuis finished his career with a third Finals championship, as he had won at 112 and 119 the past two years.

He had a 3-0 lead heading into the third period, but had to hold off Bunn, a runner-up at 130 in 2022, in the final seconds.

“It feels awesome,” Heethuis said. “It wasn’t as dominant as I would have liked. But it’s awesome to go out on a third champ. It feels nice.”

Heethuis will wrestle next year at Princeton.


Champion: Justin Gates, Davison, Jr. (34-2)
Decision, 2-1, over Mason Stewart, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (47-6)

Gates found himself back on top of the podium after finishing runner-up in 2022 to Heethuis. He had won a title in 2021, defeating Weiand at 103 pounds.

“It means a lot more to me,” Gates said. “I feel like I’ve grown a lot more as a wrestler. After taking second, I had a chip on my shoulder.”

He pulled out the victory by scoring a reversal early in the third period and riding Stewart out for the final 1:36.

“I thought I was going to score some more points, but I’ll give credit where credit’s due. DCC always has a good gameplan for us,” Gates said. “I had to overcome and adapt to that. If it’s a close match, you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.”


Champion: Clayton Jones, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (49-3)
Technical Fall, 17-2, over Jay’Den Williams, Roseville, Fr. (47-2)

Jones won his second-straight Finals title, and did so in dominant fashion. 

He led 7-1 after the first period, and 15-2 after the second. His takedown 28 seconds into the third ended the match.

“It felt great,” Jones said. “I just put in all the work that needed to be done. I was confident. I’ve been here before, and I was ready to go get my second one.”

Jones, a Michigan State commit, was DCC’s seventh champion on the night.

“This team was great,” he said. “We put in the work. (Coach Mitch) Hancock gave us a gameplan at the beginning of the season, and we stuck to that gameplan and got it done.”

Davison's Josh Barr readies for the next moment during his 175-pound title match.


Champion: Darius Marines, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (36-3)
Major Decision, 11-2, over Vinnie Abbey, Hartland, Jr. (46-3)

Marines set himself up to be the Shamrocks’ next four-time champion, claiming his third title in as many tries.

“It means a lot to me,” Marines said. “I want to make my family proud, make my teammates proud. That’s what I came to CC to do.”

Marines, who won at 145 and 152 the previous two years, scored a takedown nine seconds into the match and rolled from there.

“It’s just business,” Marines said. “Come here and get it done. I’m at the point where this is routine for me. I’m not being cocky, but that’s what we come here to do. It’s business. It’s just work.”


Champion: Cameron Adams, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (35-4)
Fall, 1:03, over Nick Rochowiak, Hartland, Sr. (39-4)

Adams had Rochowiak scouted, as they had run into each other several times over the years. So when he saw an opportunity, he was quick to take it.

“We used to wrestle all the time, so I know he’s got that headlock,” Adams said. “He got up to that pinch-like headlock position and I was like, ‘Oh shoot.’ I started backing away, backing away and I reached down for the leg, brought up the leg, grabbed the head when I had the single and put him away.”

Adams had finished seventh at 160 pounds in 2022.

“Honestly, it doesn’t feel real yet,” he said. “But it feels really good. It feels amazing.”


Champion: Brayden Mirjavadi, Romeo, Sr. (52-4)
Decision, 3-2, over Ryan Ahern, Rockford, Jr. (51-3)

Before Mirjavadi stepped onto the mat, his coaches told him to put everything he had into his match. He took that to heart, and after that match ended, struggled to get back to his feet, as exhaustion and emotion pinned his shoulders to the mat.

Eventually he made it to his feet, however, and the celebration could begin as he erased the regret of losing in the 2022 Final at 160 pounds.

“Coaches told me that, ‘At the end of the match, if you can get up to raise your hand, you did something wrong,’” Mirjavadi said. “I definitely did that last year at the state finals. But man, I did it this time.”


Champion: Connor Bercume, Detroit Catholic Central, Soph. (49-4)
Decision, 8-3 UTB, over Matthew Bollman, Lapeer, Sr. (40-4)

Bercume nearly won the match in regulation, but his takedown at the buzzer didn’t beat the clock.

He regrouped in the second overtime, however, scoring five points in the final 30-second period to win his first Finals title.

“I just had to keep wrestling,” Bercume said. “It was hard going to overtime. I thought I won. But I remember last year, I lost my blood round match in ultimate tiebreaker, and I remembered how that felt. And I just found a way to win.”

Bollman, who was Lapeer’s first finalist since 2015, forced overtime with a stalling call on Bercume seconds before the takedown that wasn’t.


Champion: Owen Hawley, Livonia Franklin, Sr. (55-0)
Decision, 4-2, over Judah Kinne, Lake Orion, Sr. (31-2)

Hawley won this match twice. Kind of. 

He appeared to have claimed a 7-2 victory, but a clock malfunction forced officials to put 22 seconds back on the clock and reset the score to 4-2. Unfazed, Hawley was able to ride out Kinne and claim the victory for real.

“I wasted a little bit of energy on that celebration at first,” Hawley said with a laugh. “But looking at my crowd, my parents, my friends, my teammates, my coaches, their faces looked terrible. There was zero belief at that point. All I had to do was give them a thumb’s up, they started cheering, they got excited, and it made me excited.

“I love to wrestle – what’s 22 more seconds?”

Click for full results

PHOTOS (Top) Davison's Caden Horwath, top, works for control against Grosse Pointe South's Wyatt Hepner in their championship match Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) Detroit Catholic Central's Dylan Gilcher and Brighton's Travis Richards wrestle at 150 pounds. (Below) Davison's Josh Barr readies for the next moment during his 175-pound title match. (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.

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.)