Dundee's Roberts Retires as 1st to 10 Finals Championships
By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com
March 9, 2022
Tim Roberts had an awakening.
After winning the Division 3 championship in 2007, his Dundee Vikings lost in three consecutive Finals matches. Each were excruciating losses – 30-27, 33-25 and 24-23.
“We had a good program,” Roberts said. “We were doing well. But there was a period there where we were in the running but not winning. In 2011, I think it was the pinnacle. I realized we had to be different.
“We’d get close every year and lose at the state tournament. Too many times we were close. I knew we had to do something different.”
Not many coaches would have had the guts to change a program that had the success of Dundee, but Roberts wanted something more. The results speak for themselves.
The Vikings recently captured their fifth consecutive Division 3 title and ninth since 2011. The latest championship gave Roberts 10 total. He is the first wrestling coach in state history to win 10 Finals titles.
“We’ve been really fortunate,” said Roberts, who announced at last weekend’s Individual Wrestling Finals that he was retiring after 23 seasons and more than 500 career wins at Dundee. “It’s pretty cool to be the first to 10. There’s a lot of great coaches on that list with a lot of championships. It represents a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”
Roberts went into this Finals weekend tied with another coach from Monroe County, Bill Regnier, with nine championships. Roberts was an assistant at Dundee when Regnier coached his final match for Bedford. He’s a coach that Roberts still holds in high regard.
“He’s the legend,” Roberts said. “In every conversation, every poll, every time you talk about, Bill Regnier is considered the best wrestling coach ever in the state. To be mentioned in the same sentence as him is something special. He really is the legend.”
Hudson’s Scott Marry tied Regnier for second place on the list with his ninth Finals title last weekend. Lowell’s R.J. Boudro won his eighth title. Mike Rodriguez won seven at Detroit Catholic Central and one at River Rouge, and Mitch Hancock has won eight at Detroit Catholic Central.
“I might have been the first to 10, but I won’t be the last,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of great coaches still coaching with a lot of championships. Scott Marry is not done winning state titles. He’ll be at 10 real quick. R.J. has won eight in eight tries.
“I don’t think 10 will stand long.”
Roberts’ run is remarkable, nonetheless. His Vikings won a District title all 23 years he was head coach and have won 30 straight overall. Dundee won its Regional in 22 of his 23 years.
Roberts doesn’t beat around the bush about Dundee’s goals every year. League championships are nice, District and Regional championships help fill up the trophy case. But, for the Vikings, winning the Finals championship is always the goal.
“That sounds arrogant, I know,” Roberts said, “but that’s the way it is. That is the goal every year. In all 23 years I coached, that was the goal.”
Roberts said his changes to the program around 2011 included adding strength training to the Dundee repertoire, and that was when Vikings coaches also started focusing more on the mental approach to the sport.
“After 2011, we hit our stride,” he said.
Roberts gives a lot of credit for the “Viking Way” to others in the program.
“Doing it this way starts long before the varsity level,” he said. “The kids club has to be strong. The middle school program has to be strong. You have to have a coaching staff on the same page and dedicated to all aspects of the team. It’s not one person, not even close.”
Roberts learned under Jim Wittibslager, who led Dundee to four straight Finals championships from 1995-98.
“That put me on a really good path,” Roberts said. “I learned how all of this works. Over time, you keep learning. You figure things out as you go. You have to build relationships with a lot of people because you can’t do this alone, not if you want to sustain success.”
Roberts has won numerous coaching honors, local and state, and was named the National Wrestling Coaches Association Boys Coach of the Year in 2020. The honors are likely to continue after this season. Dundee defeated Alma 55-12 in the Division 3 Final to conclude another dominating season.
Roberts said he had an idea this would be his last coaching the Vikings.
“Coming into this season, I was pretty sure I was going to be done,” he said. “As the season went on, I realized that it would be. This isn’t a decision I took lightly. I’ve pretty much been doing this my whole adult life.”
Roberts said no one should expect Dundee to fall off the mountain. Six Individual Finals placers were underclassmen, and kids from the middle school team to the youth programs won multiple championships.
“There are a lot of good people in place and some good wrestlers coming up,” he said. “The youth club is doing really well. It’s just time. It’s time to let someone else who has the passion and drive to do this take over.”
Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Dundee coach Tim Roberts shows his characteristic celebratory enthusiasm during last weekend’s Individual Wrestling Finals. (Middle) Bill Regnier, here in 2009, built a legendary career at Temperance Bedford. (Below) Roberts holds up his team’s 2020 Division 3 team championship trophy. (Roberts photos by Tom Hawley; Regnier photo courtesy of the Monroe News.)
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.)