Division 2: Redwings Look to Soar for 4
February 21, 2013
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Only three wrestling teams have won at least four straight championships since the first MHSAA Team Finals in 1988. This weekend, St. Johns will seek to become the fourth to pin down that accomplishment.
But this might be the Redwings toughest road to finishing the season with a win. Six of last season's Quarterfinalists also will be back at Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena.
Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 2, listed by seed. Their Quarterfinal matches begin at 7:45 p.m. Friday, with Semifinals at 11:45 Saturday morning and the championship match at 4 p.m. All matches this weekend will be streamed live on MHSAA.tv. For results throughout, check the MHSAA Wrestling page. Rankings below are from MichiganGrappler.com.
#1 ST. JOHNS
Record/rank: 19-4, No. 1
League finish: Tied for first in Capital Area Activities Conference Red
Coach: Derek Phillips, first season (19-4)
Championship history: Three MHSAA championships (most recently 2012)
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Ben Proctor (28-9) sr., 103 Ian Parker (43-1) fr., 125 Zac Hall (42-0) jr., 130 Jacob Schmitt (44-0) sr. 135 Logan Massa (35-2) soph., 140 Mark Bozzo (24-11) jr., 145 Ben Whitford (30-0) sr., 152 Josh Pennell (33-0) sr., 171 Angus Arthur (39-3) soph., 189 Payne Hayden (38-1) sr., 215 Blake Cooper (33-12) sr.
Outlook: New coach, new stars at the top, but that’s about all that’s changed as St. Johns goes after its fourth straight MHSAA championship. Phillps took over the program after seven seasons as an assistant, and five wrestlers who made the Individual Finals last season have taken over for graduated stars Taylor Massa and Jordan Wohlfert. Like those two, five seniors have signed to wrestle in the Big Ten next season: reigning MHSAA individual champs Whitford (University of Michigan), Schmitt (Northwestern) and Brant Schafer (Indiana), reigning runner-up Hayden (Michigan) and top contender Pennell (Michigan State). Hall, a junior, is a two-time individual champion.
Record/rank: 17-6, No. 2
League finish: First in O-K White
Coach: Dave Dean, eighth season (211-37)
Championship history: Three MHSAA championships (most recently 2009), five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Lucas Hall (34-5) fr., 112 Derek Krajewski (37-13) jr., 112 Zeth Dean (34-5) fr., 119 Bailey Jack (34-6) jr., 135 Jordan Hall (36-2) soph., 160 Max Dean (22-4) fr., 171 Kanon Dean (32-8) jr., 189 Garett Stehley (24-0) jr., 215 Taylor Kornoely (30-0) sr.
Outlook: The Red Arrows are in the Quarterfinals for the third straight season and after finishing runner-up in 2012. Lowell graduated some significant contributors off last year’s team, but six wrestlers are ranked among the top five in their respective classes – with Jack and Kornoely both ranked second.
Record/rank: 33-1, No. 3
League finish: First in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference
Coach: Todd Hesson, sixth season (record N/A)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Brandon Meek (40-15) soph., 119 Nicholas Zimmerman (44-4) sr., 125 Darek Bullock-Mills (30-11) jr., 145 Casey Burandt (26-1) sr., 152 Fritzel Findeisen (45-4) sr., 189 Ryan Casey (49-1) sr.
Outlook: Niles has set a school record for wins and won its first Regional title since 1960 after also winning back-to-back District titles for the first time. The Vikings own victories this season over three other Division 2 Quarterfinalists: Lowell, Allegan and Mason. All four senior individual qualifiers are ranked among the top eight in their respective weight classes.
#4 WARREN LINCOLN
Record/rank: 30-4, No. 10
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference White
Coach: Bill Delia, 14th season (219-142-3)
Championship history: MHSAA champion 1994.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Michael Abouya (28-8) jr., 119 Garret Kaercher (44-11) fr., 125 Riwan Hormiz (44-10) sr., 130 Robert Pope (32-9) soph., 140 Khannor Kaercher (47-4) soph., 152 Ethan Eisenmann (40-11) soph.
Outlook: Lincoln has made an amazing progression to return to Battle Creek after winning just one match in 2007-08 – and then upping its win total every season over the last five. The Abes have won three straight league titles and two straight District championships. Lincoln should continue to surge, as Hormiz is one of only three seniors expected in the lineup this weekend.
Record/rank: 30-5, No. 4
League finish: First in the Wolverine Conference
Coach: Murray Rose, 25th season (654-141-2)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recently 2007), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Jon Krcatovich (46-11) sr., 103 Foster Karmon (49-3) fr., 130 Austin Kelley (53-1) sr., 140 Kyle Simaz (56-0) jr., 171 Chance Gorby (43-14) sr.
Outlook: Rose’s incredible coaching career now includes 21 league titles and five straight trips to the Quarterfinals (and nine over the last decade). Among those Allegan beat during this run was No. 8 Hamilton, in the District. Simaz is a two-time individual runner-up and is ranked tops in his weight class for this division, with Kelley second at his weight and Karmon third at his.
Record/rank: 30-12, No. 6
League finish: Tied for first in Southeast Conference White
Coach: Tony Greathouse, second season (60-17)
Championship history: Has never finished among the top two teams in Finals competition.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 285 Joe Rebottaro (44-9) sr., 103 Ricky Azelton (36-14) jr., 145 Anthony Lesko (45-7) sr., 160 Cole Amstutz (38-10) sr., 189 Landon Pelham (44-9) fr., 215 Preston Pelham (45-9) jr.
Outlook: Tecumseh is making its second trip to Battle Creek in its second season under Greathouse, and sets up especially tough at the heavier weights with Individual Finals qualifiers slated for 171-285. Six wrestlers are ranked among the top 10 at their respective weights.
Record/rank: 28-4, No. 7
League finish: First in O-K Bronze
Coach: Paul Johnson, 24th season (538-114-3)
Championship history: MHSAA champion in 2008, one runner-up finish.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Mike Schmidt (47-3) sr., 130 Alec Ward (46-5) jr., 140 Kyle Reamer (36-11) sr., 189 Dakota Sherrick (43-7) sr.
Outlook: Greenville continues to shine despite graduating one of the best wrestlers in MHSAA history, Jordan Thomas, last spring. The Yellow Jackets are in Battle Creek for the fourth straight season and have won eight straight District championships. Schmidt and Ward are ranked among the top three in their respective weight classes.
Record/rank: 30-8, unranked
League finish: First in CAAC Gold
Coach: Brian Martel, 10th season (304-64)
Championship history: Three MHSAA championships (most recently 2006), one runner-up finish.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 140 James Starzec (41-12) sr., 152 Sean Houghton (46-7) sr., 160 Rylen Droscha (43-10) jr., 160 Austin Droscha (43-9) sr., 189 Joey Stid (17-3), sr.
Outlook: Mason was ranked earlier this season and reached the Quarterfinals in part by beating No. 5 Fowlerville at the Regional. This will be the Bulldogs’ third trip to Battle Creek in four seasons and sixth under Martel. Mason relies on seven seniors in the starting lineup including three who are ranked among the top 10 at their respective weights.
PHOTO: St. Johns' Zac Hall (left) wrestles Lowell's Bailey Jack at 112 pounds during last season's Division 2 Final. Both will return to Kellogg Arena on Friday. (Click to see more at 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 [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.)