Led by 1st-Year Coaches, Dundee Adds to Longtime Tradition with Another D3 Win

By Jeff Chaney
Special for MHSAA.com

February 25, 2023

KALAMAZOO – Nate Hall and Garrett Stevens knew what they were taking over when they were announced as co-coaches of the Dundee wrestling team before this season.  

Longtime coach Tim Roberts did not leave the cupboard bare when he decided to retire. 

His Vikings program had won five straight MHSAA Division 3 team titles and was littered with talented and powerful wrestlers. 

Hall and Stevens proved to be the right picks to take over the legendary program, as they helped coach the Vikings to their sixth-straight title, and 14th overall. 

And Dundee did it in its usual impressive fashion, with a 60-18 win over Whitehall in the Final on Saturday at the Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo. 

"The well was not dry, and don't wreck it," said Hall, whose team finished duals at 19-2. "We didn't change much. We have all been around the program long enough, we had a great idea of what was taking place and how we are successful."

Which is?

"The commitment of the families, that is 100 percent why this program is so successful," Hall said. "I am not chasing kids down to have them wrestle in the summer. I'm chasing them trying to keep up with them."

And that is exactly what the Vikings'  three opponents were doing all weekend in Kalamazoo – chasing down Dundee's talent.

In the Final, the Vikings were down 12-0 after two pins by Whitehall. But after that, Dundee went on to win 11 matches in a row, seven straight by pin. 

Whitehall’s Jackson Cook wrestles to a 7-3 decision win at 190 in the Semifinal against Algonac.Freshman Haydn Nutt began with a pin in 3 minutes, 9 seconds. Nutt was one of six freshmen who took to the mat this weekend for the Vikings. And all six are ranked among the top 10 in their respective weight classes by Michigan Grappler, including Nutt, who is the state's top-ranked 106-pounder in Division 3. 

"We started the year and we had 13 freshmen, and I can't say enough the way our program has developed those kids," Hall said. "They were ready from day one this year, and they stepped up and progressed properly. They were ready to go."

It helps when you have a senior class of state champions leading the way like Braeden Davis at 132 pounds, Kaden Chinavare at 138 and Aiden Davis at 157. 

"Dundee is the best place to be when you want to pursue wrestling," said Braeden Davis, who will look to win a fourth-straight individual title next weekend at Ford Field and couple that with his now four team titles. "We have a great staff, a great community. It's all about wrestling at Dundee."

Braeden Davis went 3-0 for the weekend and helped Dundee defeat Hart in the Quarterfinals 64-15 and Constantine in the Semifinals 59-16. 

Braeden Davis was most impressive in the Final, when he won by fall in 15 seconds.

Whitehall co-coach Justin Zeerip knows good wrestling when he sees it. A four-time Individual Finals champion himself, Zeerip was impressed with the Vikings. 

"Dundee is so tough, " said Zeerip, whose team ended with a 32-4 record. "From 106 to 175, they have seven top-ranked guys. And a couple other guys are ranked really high, so hats off to them, they are a great program. Our kids wrestled hard, they are just a super team."

Whitehall did wrestle hard during the two-day event as well, downing Gladstone in the Quarterfinals 48-24 on Friday, and then Algonac in the Semifinals 40-27 earlier Saturday. Whitehall wrestled over its seed in that match, as the No. 3-seeded Vikings got past the second seed.

"I was proud how my guys wrestled this weekend," Zeerip said.  

Click for full results.

PHOTOS (Top) Dundee’s Kaden Chinavare, right, goes for a takedown during his 126-pound match with Whitehall’s Caden Varela. (Middle) Whitehall’s Jackson Cook wrestles to a 7-3 decision win at 190 in the Semifinal against Algonac. (Click for more from 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.

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 keithdunlap78@gmail.com 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.)