Mumford's Smith Caps Career as Detroit PSL's 1st Finals Champ
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 5, 2022
DETROIT – Ja'Marcus Smith felt an immense sense of pride Saturday after becoming the first wrestler from a Detroit Public School to win an Individual Wrestling Finals title.
But he doesn’t plan to be the last to do it.
“It means so much to me,” the Detroit Mumford senior said. “Everything I worked for my freshman year, my 10th-grade year, my 11th-grade year, it’s finally paying off. There’s going to be more than me. There’s going to be a whole ’nother generation.”
Smith defeated Lowell freshman Carter Cichocki (32-5) by pinfall in the 103-pound Division 2 final at Ford Field. Smith was leading 10-1 before getting the pin with two seconds remaining in the third period.
As the referee's hand slapped the mat, the crowd roared. Suddenly, a collection of wrestling fans from all parts of the state joined together in cheering the achievement.
Smith placed fifth at 112 pounds a year ago, and admitted that he felt some pressure to accomplish the feat for his school and city.
“Everybody was on my back about it,” Smith said with a laugh.
Champion: Jackson Blum, Lowell, Fr. (37-3)
Fall, 3:02 over Connor Greer, Bay City John Glenn, Fr. (40-1)
Blum was dominant before finishing off his freshman year with a pinfall victory.
“I don’t think I surprised myself,” Blum said. “Obviously, he’s a really good wrestler, undefeated this year and only a freshman. But, just the way that we’ve trained all year and our schedule, I’ve been the most prepared I’ve ever been for this match.”
Blum attacked early and often in the match, and had amassed enough points for the technical fall prior to getting the pin.
Champion: Nolan Wertanen, St. Joseph, Sr. (53-0)
Decision, 7-3, over Tee Ward, Fremont, Soph. (49-3)
It took a couple shots to the nose, and a wrap that covered most of his face to get it done, but Wertanen left Ford Field as a three-time champion.
“Going into this match, I knew I was going to have a tough match, as always. It’s the state finals,” Wertanen said. “I wanted to make a point that I’m dominant. Unfortunately, I’ve never wrestled not being able to breathe entirely, so that was tough. But I got the job done.”
Wertanen won at 112 pounds in 2021 and 103 in 2020.
“If you would have told me a long time ago when I would get in every MYWA tournament, when I would get pinned and I was hiding under the bleachers, that I would be a three-time state champion, I would have been stoked,” he said.
Champion: Owen Segorski, Lowell, Fr. (28-11)
Decision, 6-1, over Bryce Shingleton, Linden, Jr. (45-3)
Despite wrestling in his first Individual Finals and falling behind, Segorski was unfazed.
“I felt good the whole time,” Segorski said. “I was never scared. I knew he was going to back up and keep diving in, so I just wanted to keep going forward and stay in my stance.”
He trailed 1-0 heading into the third period, but an escape, takedown and nearfall secured the victory and an individual title to go along with Lowell’s team championship won last weekend.
Champion: Louden Stradling, Gaylord, Jr. (24-1)
Decision, 3-2 (2OT), over Ramsy Mutschler, Lowell, Sr. (31-6)
Stradling avenged a loss from the week before, and needed to hold on into the final seconds of the second ultimate tiebreaker period.
“Last week I wrestled Ramsy, and it was a really close one,” Stradling said. “I couldn’t open up on him because his defense is amazing. This week, I took it slow, I focused on how to get out on bottom from him, and me getting out on bottom changed the match.”
Mutschler scored an escape early in the first ultimate tiebreaker period, and entered the second with a 2-1 lead. Stradling scored a reversal midway through the second, and held on for his first title.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Stradling said. “I plan on doing it again, but this year meant a lot to me.”
Champion: Aaron Lucio, Stevensville Lakeshore, Jr. (54-0)
Decision, 7-4, over James Link, Lowell, Sr. (38-6)
A year after finishing second in the Finals, Lucio broke through, finishing off an unbeaten season with his first title.
“It means a lot,” Lucio said. “I knew I put the work in. I knew I could get it done. I knew that my coaches told me to stay tough in close matches, and if that would happen, I would win.”
Lucio scored an early takedown in the match, and never trailed, but he used a three-point third period to give himself some space before Link scored an escape in the final minute.
“More points were on the board than I thought,” Lucio said. “But as I opened up and I got to feel him and he could feel me, I knew I could get to his legs a lot easier.”
Champion: Jacob Brya, St. Johns, Sr. (42-0)
Decision, 1-0, over Carsen Richards, Goodrich, Sr. (45-3)
After a positive COVID-19 test ended his junior season and a potential run at four individual titles, Brya came into his senior season with something to prove – after a nudge from his dad.
“I was sitting around for a while, then my dad started yelling at me,” Brya said. “Ever since then I’ve been doing two-a-days and lifting all the time. I just feel like I have more motivation than I’ve ever had.”
Brya won at 112 pounds in 2020 and 103 in 2019. He held a slim 1-0 advantage in Saturday’s final, but rode Richards out to get the victory.
It was the third time the two had wrestled this season, and while each match was close, Brya was able to win the battle while on top, giving him the confidence to do it again.
Champion: Zamuel Thompson, Stevensville Lakeshore, Sr. (51-3)
Decision, 8-6, over Timmy Simons, Gibraltar Carlson, Jr. (37-4)
Thompson joined his sister, Sydney, of Eaton Rapids in winning a Finals title (110 pounds), becoming the first brother-sister combination to win MHSAA wrestling titles in the same season.
“It’s amazing,” Zamuel Thompson said. “I didn’t even know she was going to do it until three or four weeks ago. That made my day.”
In his own match, Thompson needed a third-period takedown to hold off Simons.
“I knew I shouldn’t have let him take me down in the first place,” Thompson said. “I was wrestling sloppy. Just conditioning we’re doing, I knew that in the end I would get him, there was no doubt in my mind. It was just a matter of when.”
Champion: Micah Hanau, Stevensville Lakeshore, Sr. (52-2)
Decision, 3-2, over Julius Polk, Pontiac, Sr. (36-2)
Hanau felt he was too reckless his junior season, which didn’t allow him to repeat as an individual champion.
But he was well under control Saturday as he was able to wrap up a second title.
“I feel great,” Hanau said. “I wrestled the match I wanted to. Last year, I didn’t do how I wanted because of how (out-of-control) my wrestling style was. I took time to control that, and I feel like I won the match I planned on winning.”
Hanau was the champion at 130 pounds in 2020.
Champion: Jacob Gonzales, Holly, Sr. (49-0)
Decision, 7-3, over William Bradley, Paw Paw, Sr. (51-2)
Gonzales became a three-time individual champion with his victory. The Holly senior won at 152 pounds in 2021 and 2020.
“It’s everything I wanted,” Gonzales said. “I wanted four, I had to settle for three, but history isn’t easy.”
Gonzales was in control for most of the match, but Bradley was able to put a little scare into the Holly fans near the end. Gonzales was less scared.
“I knew he was a funky wrestler,” Gonzales said. “I knew I was going to have to be flexible and ready for everything he threw at me, and I was.”
Champion: Brayden Gatreau, Gaylord, Jr. (42-1)
Major decision, 10-2, over Derek Badgley, Mason, Soph. (49-3)
Gatreau turned up the heat in the third period, making what was a tight match a major decision.
“I felt great,” he said. “I worked towards my cardio all season. I knew that, no matter what, I’m working harder than anybody else. At the end of the day, it comes down to who wants it more, and I want it more than anyone else in this state. No matter what time, I’m going to close out the match and I’m going to win it.”
Gatreau scored six points in the third period, including a takedown and nearfall during the final 20 seconds.
Champion: Adam Haselius, Jackson Northwest, Jr. (45-1)
Decision, 7-2, over Kael Wisler, New Boston Huron, Sr. (54-2)
Haselius won the match on his feet, getting three takedowns to Wisler’s zero. And as the match was ending, he was still pushing for a pin, despite having it wrapped up.
“Can’t let up, that’s letting the other guy into the match,” Haselius said. “I have to keep grinding no matter what the score is. It’s the feeling of accomplishment.
“This right here is what you work for. It feels so good to finally complete that goal. To finally reach that high point. I just wrestled my match; it’s a great feeling.”
Champion: Carter Blough, Lowell, Sr. (37-2)
Decision, 4-0, over James Campbell, Mattawan, Sr. (36-1)
As Blough walked off the mat following his first individual title, he was mobbed by his family.
“That’s crazy,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for this since I was like 6. It couldn’t be any better. This is what I’ve been wanting since I started wrestling. This is the best moment of my life right here.”
Blough got an early takedown in the first period, and while there wasn’t much scoring afterward, he appeared to be in control throughout.
“I just had to be careful, cautious,” Blough said. “I was just being stingy on top. Just keeping my hips up so he couldn’t hit any big moves, and I knew the match was mine.”
Champion: Ira Jenkins, Whitehall, Sr. (51-0)
Fall 0:38, over Joshua Cook, Ferndale, Sr. (52-1)
Jenkins had a dominant run through the tournament, pinning each of his opponents, including the final three in the opening minute.
“I just knew I had to go out there and do what I do,” Jenkins said. “I was just taking it one thing at a time, and I guess that’s what it ended up being.”
It was the second-straight individual title for Jenkins, who pinned through the 285-pound bracket in Division 3 a year ago.
“Being able to pin through the state tournament two years in a row, that’s pretty cool, I think,” Jenkins said.
PHOTOS (Top) Detroit Mumford’s Jamarcus Smith works toward a pin in his 103-pound championship match Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) St. Johns’ Jacob Brya maintains a hold on his way to winning at 140. (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.
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 email@example.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.)