Performance: Detroit CC's Nick Jenkins

January 27, 2017

Nick Jenkins
Detroit Catholic Central senior – Wrestling

The reigning Division 1 champion at heavyweight, Jenkins has again made a heavy impact on the top-ranked Shamrocks’ near-perfect run this season. On Jan. 19, Detroit Catholic Central avenged back-to-back MHSAA Tournament losses to Davison with a 32-22 dual win, and Jenkins clinched the victory over the No. 2-ranked Cardinals with a 3-1 overtime victory against sophomore standout Aaron Gilmore to earn the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

A relative newcomer to the sport entering high school, Jenkins has grown into one of the state’s best and moved to 28-1 this winter in the Shamrocks’ win over No. 5 Oxford on Wednesday. He’s top-ranked at his weight by, coming off last season’s Division 1 Individual Final when he edged Dearborn Heights Crestwood’s Ali Wahab 5-1 while handing Wahab (also the 2015 runner-up) his only loss of last season. Jenkins went on to finish sixth at the Flo Nationals in Pennsylvania last March to earn All-America recognition. His career record is 140-35, and DCC as a team is 21-1 this winter with its only loss to Ohio power Lakewood St. Edward.

Jenkins also started at center this fall for DCC’s football team that advanced to the Division 1 championship game and finished 13-1 with its only loss to Detroit Cass Tech in the Final. He earned all-Detroit Catholic League Central honors in that sport, but will stick to the mat at Central Michigan University. He carries a 3.2 grade-point average and is interested in studying either athletic training or criminal justice.

Coach Mitch Hancock said: “Nick is an exceptional young man who has a work ethic that is very rare in young kids today. He's respected greatly amongst his peers and faculty members here at CC due to his humility, character, and friendliness. Nick is a blue-collared, hardworking individual who prides himself on representing his family, school, and team with pride. He's a great leader and a fantastic individual who has led this team to great success." 

Performance Point: “As a team we knew it was a big match for seeding purposes at team states, and we want to get the one seed,” Jenkins said of the Davison match. “We thought we worked for it and we deserve it. Individually, I thought I’d perform better against (Gilmore), and I knew I had to get that win. I didn’t expect him to come out like he did; he surprised me a little bit. But I just kept my focus, tried to get my offense going a little more. I was passive the first two periods, but as the match progressed I started getting more aggressive, getting my leg attacks.”

Always in the title hunt: “We always expect to be great. We know how hard we work, how hard our coaches and staff work, and we expect to be in that position come February and March. We’re a little more unified this year. Losing two years in a row to Davison, that left a bad taste in guys’ mouths. We worked harder in the offseason, for sure.”

Starting from scratch: “I had about a month of wrestling in eighth grade. (But) I really wanted it, and my coaches don’t really let me take reps off. It’s either give everything you have, or don’t do it. Honestly, I’d heard (DCC wrestlers) win a lot, and I love to win, love to compete, and that was a big part of it for me. Around the middle of my sophomore year I saw guys like Myles (Amine), Trevor (Zdebski), how they kept advancing through the season and getting better although they were returning state champs. Everything clicked then. (They taught me) never stop getting better. You’ve got to keep going and going. Wrestling is a hard sport. You’re going to have ups and downs, but if you listen to what your coaches say and do the right things, you’ll have greatness in it.”

Learning to win: “(Success) is just kinda expected at CC. They don’t settle for anything less than giving your best, and if you give your best all the time you’re going to find success on and off the field. My brother (Jordan) went here before me, so I’d experienced that before and I had a solid mentality coming into CC. … (Hancock and football coach Tom Mach) really aren’t too much different. Both teams work hard; the coaches demand success of you. They preach the same messages: consistency, hard work and work ethic.”

Charting the future: “(I’m interested in) athletic training, to get to work in sports and be able to help people out. It’s always been something I liked. Criminal justice is just something I’ve liked since I was a kid … FBI, CIA, that kind of special agent stuff always intrigued me.” 

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2016-17 school year, Second Half and the Michigan National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2016-17 honorees:
Jan. 19: Eileene Naniseni, Mancelona basketball Read
Jan. 12: Rory Anderson, Calumet hockey – Read
Dec. 15: Demetri Martin, Big Rapids basketball Read
Dec. 1: Rodney Hall, Detroit Cass Tech football Read
Nov. 24: Ally Cummings, Novi volleyball Read
Nov. 17: Chloe Idoni, Fenton volleyball Read
Nov. 10: Adelyn Ackley, Hart cross country Read
Nov. 3: Casey Kirkbride, Mattawan soccer – Read
Oct. 27: Colton Yesney, Negaunee cross country Read
Oct. 20: Varun Shanker, Midland Dow tennis Read
Oct. 13: Anne Forsyth, Ann Arbor Pioneer cross country – Read
Oct. 6: Shuaib Aljabaly, Coldwater cross country – Read
Sept. 29: Taylor Seaman, Brighton swimming & diving – Read
Sept. 22: Maggie Farrell, Battle Creek Lakeview cross country – Read
Sept. 15: Franki Strefling, Buchanan volleyball – Read
Sept. 8: Noah Jacobs, Corunna cross country – Read

PHOTOS: (Top) DCC's Nick Jenkins wrestles Crestwood's Ali Wahab during last season's Division 1 Final at heavyweight. (Middle) Jenkins salutes the crowd after claiming his first MHSAA individual championship. (Photos courtesy of Detroit Catholic Central high school.)

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.)