Lowell Bests Rival in Familiar Matchup

February 27, 2016

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

MOUNT PLEASANT – Lowell needed 13 matches Saturday to clinch another of what has become an annual MHSAA Finals back-and-forth with rival St. Johns. 

But senior Lucas Hall, in his final high school team match, needed only 26 seconds to put the finishing pin on his team’s third straight Division 2 championship.

Lowell added a sixth MHSAA title to a body of work already ranking it among the most successful wrestling programs in state history, outlasting the Redwings 37-22 despite the teams being deadlocked with three matches remaining.

Hall’s pin at 125 pounds was sandwiched between a pin by junior Sam Russell at 119 and a decision by freshman Avry Mutschler at 130 that together gave the top-ranked Red Arrows the final 15 points of the day – literally – as the back-and-forth nature of the tussle caused it to finish last of the four Finals and multiple matches after two had concluded.

“It’s really been us multiple years going back and forth at it. It’s tough. It’s not going to be easy; everyone knows that,” Hall said. “We’ve had good times, we’ve had bad times with St. Johns. To be honest, it’s just going after it, trying to go for the win. Rivalry wins are the best wins.”

Lowell finished 22-3 and entered the weekend the top seed to go with its top regular-season ranking. St. Johns (28-5) was ranked third heading into the postseason but seeded second this weekend.

The Redwings opened a 7-0 lead after two matches, and the Red Arrows tied the score with two straight wins. St. Johns then earned a decision, and Lowell tied it again with a decision – but in doing so started a 15-0 run keyed by some deft maneuvering at the heavier weights by coach R.J. Boudro.

Junior Eli Boulton has wrestled at 215 pounds but got in at the 189-pound match and came away with a pin. After a decision win by senior Logan Blough at 215, senior Max Dean moved up two weights to 285 – giving up about 100 pounds but beating 5-4 St. Johns senior Jake Gnegy, a likely contender at next weekend’s Individual Finals.

Dean wrestled heavyweight for the first time this season in Friday’s Quarterfinal win over Sturgis.

“I like challenges. Coach came to me with the idea and I was all about it, and I was just really excited and glad I could get it done for my teammates,” Dean said. “Credit (Gnegy), he was really strong. I knew I had to wrestle the match a certain way and didn’t want to be under him or anything like that. I thought it would be a lot of fun.” 

But despite Lowell’s 22-10 lead at that point, it wasn’t the end.

St. Johns battled back with back-to-back pins by sophomore Brendan Zelenka and junior Emilio Sanchez at 103 and 112, respectively, to tie the score again – setting up the closing run by Russell, Hall and Mutschler.

All five of Lowell's seniors won their matches in the Final as the Red Arrows won nine of 14 matches total.   

“Everybody just expects us to do this. What no one knows is how hard these kids work and how hard it is to win a state title with the expectations that we have,” Boudro said. “Our seniors, every senior did what they were expected to do. It was just an awesome win. We wrestled above expectations, I felt like.”

The same could’ve been said for the Redwings, perhaps, for a couple of reasons. St. Johns missed Finals weekend completely last season, losing to eventual Division 2 runner-up Eaton Rapids in the Regional Final.

The Redwings had to beat both No. 7 Eaton Rapids and No. 2 DeWitt to reach CMU this weekend – and nearly had enough to finish with a fifth championship in seven seasons.

“One thing that this team has not done all year, is we haven’t given up. Things may not go our way, but it doesn’t discourage us. We keep battling hard, we keep wrestling tough,” St. Johns coach Derek Phillips said. “The way last season ended left a sour taste, so we all wanted to wrestle tough and get back here. But we didn’t talk about it much this year. This year we just focused on getting better and having fun. … We didn’t win, but I thought we had a successful season where the guys got better, had fun, and the team, we grew.”

Lowell cruised to a 52-18 win over Sturgis in its Quarterfinal on Friday, while St. Johns advanced with a 49-23 win over Dearborn Heights Annapolis. The Redwings then beat third-seeded Gaylord in a Semifinal, 55-11, while Lowell outlasted fourth-seeded Goodrich 35-27.

Hall, Max Dean, Mutschler, junior Bryce Dempsey and senior Danny Kruse all won all three of their matches on the weekend for Lowell. Zelenka, junior Bret Fedewa and senior Ian Parker won all three of their matches for the Redwings – Parker winning the most intriguing individual matchup of the Final, 3-0 over Lowell senior Zeth Dean. Both are reigning individual champions and will be in the 140 bracket next weekend.

Click for full results.

The MHSAA Wrestling Finals are presented by the Michigan Army National Guard

PHOTO: Lowell and St. Johns met in the Division 2 Final for the fourth time in five seasons Saturday. (Click to see more at 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 [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.)