Hruska Earning Fame as Iron Mountain Continues Climb with District Title

By John Vrancic
Special for

February 10, 2023

IRON MOUNTAIN — Shayna Hruska accomplished what no other Upper Peninsula female wrestler had before, becoming the first girl to capture a title at the Upper Peninsula Wrestling Championships and being selected the meet’s Outstanding Wrestler in Marquette on Jan. 21.

Upper PeninsulaThe Iron Mountain junior has gone on to earn her second straight Mid-Peninsula Conference championship at Ishpeming on Feb. 4, gaining top honors at 106 pounds after winning at 103 a year ago.

The Mountaineers have since captured a Division 4 Team District title Wednesday night in a 49-27 defeat of Bark River-Harris. They host the Team Regional on Feb. 15.

They’re also entered in Saturday’s Individual District at Manistique. Hruska, however, elected to pass on the Individual District in favor of competing in the Girls Regional on Feb. 19 at Grayling or Cadillac.

Female wrestlers are allowed to wrestle the individual postseason beginning either with the District including boys competitors, or in the Girls Regional bracket that feeds into the Girls Individual Finals; both finish at Ford Field.

“Girls wrestling is growing, which makes for stronger competition,” she said. “I’m really grateful for my teammates and coaches because they push me to get better.

“Wrestling on a Sunday will be a little different, but I don’t think it will be too much of an adjustment. I just need to get plenty of rest and eat healthy.”

Hruska secured the U.P. title by taking an 8-2 decision from St. Ignace freshman Dalton Champion in the 106-pound final.

“I was really excited, but right now I’m working toward Regional and state tournaments” she said. “Wrestling against the boys prepares me a lot. They have a different technique. Every wrestler is different. Wrestling the boys is harder, but prepares you better.”

Iron Mountain is loaded with experienced standouts this season. Senior Shawn McGuire won last season’s Division 4 Finals championship at 119 pounds, and junior Tyler Winch was the runner-up at that weight. Senior Evan Haferkorn and juniors Fulton Stroud and Alex Wilson all placed at last season’s Finals as well.

Coach Cory McLaren said Hruska does plenty to bolster the lineup as well.

“We need her in our lineup,” he added. “People are recognizing her. We’re hoping she encourages other girls to try out. She has the fire and desire. She’s also growing and starting to get longer.”

Hruska became interested in wrestling when she was in third grade.

“I wanted to join wrestling and brought home a permission slip,” she said. “My parents tried to discourage me because they didn’t think I’d like it, then I brought home another permission slip and they signed it. They’ve learned to enjoy it and really loved wrestling since I went out. I’ve improved a lot. I used to be real nervous and would sometimes get sick, but I’ve learned to overcome that.”

A week before the M-PC meet, Hruska was runner-up by one point in a tournament at Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

“I was on top trying to score and ran out of time,” she said. “I’ve learned to take it one match at a time and never underestimate anybody.”

Iron Mountain placed fourth among 21 teams at Sturgeon Bay prior to retaining the league title a few days later.

“That was a tough tournament,” said McLaren. “There was very strong competition down there. We had some kids out with the flu, but it was still a real good experience for us.”

John VrancicJohn Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTO Iron Mountain’s winners at the U.P. Championships at Marquette hold up their charts, from left: Evan Haferkorn, Fulton Stroud, Shawn McGuire, Alex Wilson and Shayna Hruska. (Photo courtesy of the Iron Mountain wrestling program.)

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 [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.)