Gabriel Richard's Martinez Wins Finals Rematch to Double Title Count
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 4, 2023
DETROIT – For the second-straight year, Sebastian Martinez and Dillon Raab wrestled for a MHSAA Division 4 Individual Finals title.
And for the second-straight year, it was Martinez who had his hand raised.
The Riverview Gabriel Richard sophomore became a two-time Finals champion Saturday with a 10-2 major decision at 157 pounds.
“I knew how I wrestled last year, but I put a lot more work in this year,” said Martinez, who finished the season with a 39-3 record. “I knew I had the confidence that I was going to win, and I got the job done.”
Martinez was one of six wrestlers in Division 4 who finished the night a multiple-time Finals champion.
He did it with a clinical match against Raab, a three-time runner-up from Bark River-Harris. Martinez scored a takedown and a nearfall in the first period to take control, and added a reversal nine seconds into the second period to go up 6-0. Raab – who finished his senior season 48-4 – scored his only points on a reversal in the third period, but he already trailed 8-0 at that point.
“I’ve been practicing riding on top a lot this year, and it really paid off in this match,” Martinez said. “He couldn’t really score from bottom until the end.”
On a night where a record four wrestlers – Dundee’s Braeden Davis, Detroit Catholic Central’s Dylan Gilcher, and Davison’s Josh Barr and Caden Horwath – won their fourth titles, it was easy for Martinez to see that possibility for himself, now that two are down in his first two years.
“That’s been my goal and dream for a long time,” Martinez said. “The first time I got it, I was obviously very happy because my dream had started. This year, I wanted to confirm it – make sure I put in all the work and make sure I get it.”
Champion: Nicholas Sorrow, Hudson, Fr. (50-1)
Decision, 9-2, over Logan Gilbert, Martin/Climax-Scotts, Soph. (48-6)
Any time a freshman wins a Finals title it’s a statement. But knocking off a defending champion to do it gives it some extra oomph.
That’s what Sorrow did, picking up his third win of the season against Gilbert, who won at 103 pounds in 2022.
“I felt good,” Sorrow said. “I’ve been waiting to get here and get my shot, and now it’s here.”
Sorrow took control of the match at the end of the third period, taking a 5-0 lead with a takedown and nearfall. From there, he rolled to his first Finals title.
Champion: Sammy Stewart, Manchester, Fr. (19-1)
Decision, 14-11, over Alex Rodriguez, St. Louis, Fr. (45-7)
In one of the more high-scoring Finals matches of the night, Stewart came out victorious, overcoming an early deficit to win the battle of star freshmen.
Rodriguez had led 5-1 and 10-6, but Stewart scored eight of the last nine points in the match.
It was a much different ending than their first meeting during the season, when Rodriguez pinned Stewart while trailing 7-1.
“I knew that cradle was coming, so I had to be careful of that,” Stewart said. “I learned it in my semifinal match that it’s not over until it’s over. So when he got the first takedown I thought, ‘It’s not over yet, I’ve got three periods to go.’ Anything can happen. I just didn’t need to think, I just needed to wrestle and score points.”
Champion: Wesley Edie, Grass Lake, Sr. (38-6)
Decision, 10-9, over Daven Lockwood, New Lothrop, Sr. (30-7)
Edie fell behind early, and trailed 8-6 heading into the third period. But he managed a reversal and a takedown in the final two minutes to win his first Finals title.
“I just had to keep thinking I was going to win, no matter what,” Edie said. “Down 6-2, I had to keep working – out-cardio him.”
Both were Finals placers a year ago, as Lockwood was eighth and Edie was fourth.
“It’s great,” Edie said. “I’ve been going for it all season, but it’s a great feeling.”
Champion: Shawn McGuire, Iron Mountain, Sr. (40-1)
Major Decision, 12-3, over Perry Lake, Bronson, Sr. (47-7)
A year ago, McGuire had to overcome a teammate to win his first Finals title. He much preferred wrestling someone in a different singlet.
“It was quite a bit of difference,” McGuire said. “I think last year, it was bittersweet to go into the Finals with my best friend and also my teammate. It was different this year. It’s just sweet this year.”
McGuire won at 119 in 2022 and was runner-up in 2020. He also placed third in 2021, giving him four top-three finishes in his career.
“It’s better than ever,” McGuire said. “It feels good to come out on top.”
Champion: Landyn Crance, Union City, Jr. (44-3)
Fall, 2:43, over Haylen Buell, Martin/Climax-Scotts, Fr. (53-5)
Crance became the first two-time champion in Union City history, and was struggling to hold back his emotions following the pinfall victory.
“It’s unbelievable,” Crance said. “First-ever two-time state champion in my school’s history, and that was my goal all year. It feels so good. Way better than last year.”
Crance, who won at 125 in 2022, lost to Buell in the Regional, and trailed 2-1 before getting the pin in the second period Saturday.
“I had something to work for every week,” Crance said. “Being at the top isn’t always the best. Battling for something, it gets you motivated a lot more. Your nerves settle down a lot, you don’t have as much pressure. It’s so relieving to get that win.”
Champion: Josiah Schaub, Traverse City St. Francis, Sr. (38-4)
Decision, 4-2, over Blake Sloan, Manchester, Fr. (52-4)
Schaub didn’t overthink his match strategy, even though he had plenty of time to do so, as this was the second-to-last match of the night.
“Sometimes my mind’s just empty,” he said. “Today, it just happened to stay empty, which is good.”
Schaub had the only offensive points in the match, with a takedown in the second period and a reversal in the third. Sloan scored on an escape and stalling call.
“It feels amazing after seven years of doing wrestling to finally win something this big,” Schaub said. “It feels incredible.”
Champion: Coy Perry, Hudson, Jr. (40-8)
Decision, 7-5, over Hunter Coxon, Montrose, Sr. (53-5)
In his first season at Hudson, Perry found his way back to the top of the podium. He won a title at 112 pounds in 2021 while at Clinton. He had also placed seventh in 2022.
“It’s pretty special,” Perry said. “I’m just so grateful and thankful.”
Perry never trailed in the match, but a third-period takedown from Coxon did make it a one-point match. Perry was able to hold the Montrose senior off in the final 20 seconds for the win.
“The atmosphere was a lot better,” Perry said. “And I was wrestling my teammate (last time). It’s kind of tough to be wrestling your teammate and try not to have any emotions. This atmosphere was amazing. Just 10 times better than the last one was.”
Champion: Manus Bennett, Marlette, Sr. (49-1)
Decision, 5-3, over Evan Haferkorn, Iron Mountain, Sr. (37-2)
Bennett claimed his third Finals title on the night. He won at 103 pounds in 2020 and 140 in 2022. He suffered only one loss at the Finals in his career, as he placed third as a sophomore in 2021.
“I don’t think anybody truly imagines it – I know a lot of them hope,” Bennett said. “A lot of people dream of going for four, and I screwed that up, so I went for the next biggest thing. After freshman year I figured, ‘Maybe I can make this a reality.’ I came close, but in the end, I’m proud and happy with it.”
On Saturday, Bennett found himself tied at 3 with Haferkorn – a three-time placer – late in the third period. A reversal with 28 seconds remaining and subsequent ride-out gave him the win.
Champion: Robert Cann, Whitmore Lake, Sr. (47-3)
Major Decision, 15-6, over Fulton Stroud, Iron Mountain, Jr. (36-7)
Cann handed out and accepted more than a dozen hugs after leaving the mat with his first Finals title. Multiple were from his own coaches, but plenty were from other coaches and wrestlers from around the state.
“A lot of different coaches from different clubs that I’ve been able to talk to,” Cann said.
He took control of his match with a huge second period, scoring 10 points to take a 12-3 lead into the final one.
“It feels great,” he said. “I’m so proud. I really was nervous going into this match. All I could do was pray to my God, my lord and savior Jesus Christ, and he really gave me strength for that match.”
Champion: Cole Hopkins, Evart, Sr. (48-0)
Major Decision, 10-1, over JR Hildebrand, Martin/Climax-Scotts, Sr. (38-3)
Hopkins finished off an unbeaten season with his second-straight Finals title. It was his third-straight top-two finish, as he was a runner-up in 2021.
“When you have the target on your back and everybody is coming after you, you have to work twice as hard,” Hopkins said. “Everyone has a picture of you on their nightstand or something, trying to beat you. So I just wanted to leave no doubt that I’m the champ.”
Hopkins was dominant throughout the match, taking a 5-0 lead after the first period with a takedown and nearfall, and he stretched it to 8-0 heading into the third period.
Champion: Evan Wakefield, Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary, Sr. (54-1)
Decision, 4-2 (OT), over Drew Allgeyer, Bark River-Harris, Sr. (35-5)
Wakefield needed overtime in his last two matches of the tournament to claim his first Finals title.
On Friday, he scored a takedown with 3 seconds remaining to force overtime. Saturday’s tying point came much earlier in the third period, but there was still plenty of drama.
Not long into overtime, Allgeyer, the defending champ at 189 pounds, attempted a shot that Wakefield blocked before working behind for the win.
“I’m just thinking, ‘Keep a level head, don’t get emotional,’” Wakefield said. “I had to make a move, had to find a way to score. Thankfully I did. God gave me the opportunity, and I took it. I was kind of used to it from (an overtime match) yesterday. He seemed tired, so I knew he would take a shot on me and I knew I would be fast enough to sprawl.”
Champion: Grady Iobe, Union City, Sr. (39-1)
Decision, 7-0, over Daxton Looney, Montrose, Sr. (48-11)
After placing eighth in 2021 and third in 2022, Iobe was happy to take another couple steps up the podium this year.
“It feels amazing,” Iobe said. “There’s no other feeling like it.”
He was dominant in the match, getting a takedown 16 seconds in and adding another in each of the next two periods.
“Our coaches say that almost every match is won in a takedown battle,” Iobe said. “If you win on your feet, you’ll win in the match. You just have to wrestle out there smart, get as many points as you can, and don’t give away free points.”
Champion: Eathan Westfall, Reading, Sr. (45-0)
Injury Default, over Grayson Orr, New Lothrop, Sr. (38-2)
Westfall would rather have wrestled for his first Finals title, but he wasn’t going to let that take away from his accomplishment.
“I wanted to wrestle really bad,” Westfall said. “I hate that that was how it ended, and I feel bad for him that he didn’t get a chance to wrestle. It’s not fair to him, and I really wish I had my match to prove it.”
Orr was injured Friday, and Westfall found out when he came onto the Ford Field turf Saturday that he would be crowned champion without having to wrestle.
Although it wasn’t the way he envisioned, he had an idea of when the accomplishment would hit him.
“The second I see my parents,” he said.
PHOTOS (Top) Riverview Gabriel Richard’s Sebastian Martinez shows his chart after winning his second Finals championship Saturday. (Middle) Whitmore Lake’s Robert Cann (in red) works toward a win over Iron Mountain’s Fulton Stroud. (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.
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.)