Greer, Tri-County Aim for Big 2016 Finish

January 1, 2016

By Dean Holzwarth
Special for Second Half

HOWARD CITY – Tri-County High School sophomore Dakota Greer remembers being soundly beaten by teammate Nick McGhan throughout their childhood.

The two began wrestling together before they could barely write their own names. McGhan always would have the upper hand on the mat over his younger friend.

“He was way better than me when we were little,” Greer said, “but him beating up on me made me better.”

As the years passed, they continued to grapple on a daily basis. Greer quickly improved. The matches became more even.

“It got to the point where we were wrestling nose-to-nose,” Greer said. “We made each other better.”

Greer and McGhan became high school teammates for the first time last season, and both made their marks on the biggest stage at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

Greer became the first freshman in school history to win an MHSAA Individual Final when he defeated Corunna’s Emilio Campos 9-6 in the Division 3 championship match at 103 pounds.

Meanwhile, McGhan, a junior last season, lost in the semifinals at 112 pounds before recovering to take third place.

“It felt really good to be the first freshmen in school history to do that,” said Greer, who started wrestling when he was 4 and was inspired by his talented older twin cousins, former Carson City-Crystal standouts Darren and Dillen Decker.

“I always had big goals, and at the beginning I knew I had a little bit of a chance. But it wasn’t till later on when I realized I could do it.”

Greer finished the season with a 42-1 record, although he never really lost a match.

Midway through the season, Greer had appendix surgery and was forced to miss a few matches. During one dual meet, his coaches put him in the lineup thinking the other team would void at that weight.

Instead, the opposing coach opted to place a wrestler in the match. Greer lost on an injury default since he was unable to wrestle.

“Coach still called me undefeated,” Greer said.     

Tri-County wrestling coach Corey Renner, in his 10th season, said he wasn’t surprised by Greer’s rare feat. He had been standing by patiently for the time when Greer could showcase his abilities at the high school level.

“I’ve known him since fifth or sixth grade, and we’ve just been waiting for him to get to high school,” Renner said. “He beat a kid from Shelby early in the year, who at the time was the favorite to win it. He beat him pretty handily, and at that point I knew he could probably win it.

“You never know, though. Kids can get hurt or sick, and strange things can happen, but I felt like if everything went the way it should then he could win it. He’s dedicated, and he just does everything you ask and more.”

Greer and McGhan have returned for one more season together and are currently leading the 9th-ranked team in Division 3.

The Vikings entered this week’s Grandville Invitational with a perfect 9-0 mark, which included a win at Tri-County’s team invitational.

They also placed third at the Chippewa Hills individual tourney.

Greer has picked up where he left off. He currently owns an unblemished 11-0 record while moving up to 119 pounds.

“I still have a lot of goals I want to reach,” Greer said.

Tri-County hasn’t reached the MHSAA Team Quarterfinals since 2003, but this year’s team has the potential to break the dry spell with the return of several starters.

“This is the best team we’ve had in a long time,” Renner said. “We still have some holes to fill, but when we get everyone healthy and ready to go then we will be really tough.

“Whitehall is in our Regional, and they’re really good every year, but I think we can compete with them if we can get everybody where they need to be. We can give them a run for their money, that’s for sure.” 

Greer also likes this year’s group, and has high hopes for the rest of the season.

“We lost a couple good kids, but we still have a lot of good juniors and seniors and a couple freshmen and sophomores who are doing really good,” Greer said. “We have good kids all the way through so we should be strong for a while.”

PHOTOS: (Top) Howard City Tri-County's Dakota Greer prepares to take a shot during last season's Division 3 championship match at 103 pounds. (Middle) Tri-County coach Corey Renner is in his 10th season leading the program. (Click for more photos from

Bragging Rights for Both as Multi-Sport Sage Twins Shine at Ford Field

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

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 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.)