Performance: Dundee's Brandon Whitman

January 26, 2018

Brandon Whitman
Dundee senior – Wrestling

Whitman is fast approaching an opportunity to join one of the elite groups of achievers in any sport in MHSAA history. With a chance at becoming the 23rd four-time individual wrestling champion a little more than a month away, Whitman continued his undefeated run of this season by winning the Most Valuable Performer at the upper weights at last weekend’s Hudson Super 16 – earning this week’s Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Whitman, wrestling last weekend and mostly this season at 215 pounds, and occasionally as a heavyweight, is 27-0 this season and 180-3 over his high school career. He is ranked No. 3 nationally at 220 pounds by InterMat, with MHSAA Division 3 championships the last two seasons at 189 pounds and a win at 171 as a freshman. His most impressive victories this winter arguably are against Cody Howard of Lakewood St. Edward (Ohio), a nationally-ranked 195-pounder headed for Virginia Tech, and twice over Temperance Bedford heavyweight Austin Emerson, another nationally-ranked foe who will continue next season at Eastern Michigan University. Whitman also earned the 100th pin of his high school career in Wednesday’s dual meet win over Hudson.

Dundee as a team is ranked No. 1 in Division 3 this season and competing for its fourth MHSAA title in six seasons after finishing runner-up at last year’s Final on a tie-breaker in the championship match. Whitman will continue his academic and wrestling careers at the University of North Carolina. He carries a 3.9 grade-point average and intends to study physical therapy.

Coach Tim Roberts said: “It isn't about him. It's about all of us. He's doing his best to get better, and his ego has never gotten in the way of his success. He’s endlessly getting better, (asking) ‘how can I learn more about this sport and get better?’ I feel lucky; I’ve been able to coach a lot of great people, and he ranks as one of best people inside and outside of it. … Watching him come out of his shell more, how he treats other people, it’s great. As a freshman he was really good, obviously; he’s even better now. Even yesterday, he was asking questions trying to get better. It’s very impressive, how he handles himself. I’m just really happy I’ve had the opportunity to have this four years with him.”

Performance Point: “It’s been fun. I’ve been trying to get the best matches I could get so I can see what areas I need to improve on. … One of the big things with Emerson is I learned that I need to relax a little bit more. In some of those bigger matches, I tend to go out and try to sprint pretty much the whole match – and I get tired towards the end because the body’s not really meant to sprint for that long. The first time I wrestled him, I went out there and I got a takedown right away, took out a lot of energy. The second time I was a lot more relaxed. I picked and chose where I went and made my attacks, and it worked out a lot better. I ended up beating him 8-1 instead of 3-2, and I felt like I competed and I was able to go a lot longer than I usually am.”

On the verge of history: “It’s nice. It’s cool. But the ultimate goal is to just to keep getting better and better, and improving where you need to improve. Being the best that you can be. It will set goals for other kids coming up to try to work towards that and try to beat my records. That’s kinda cool.”

Humility counts: “(It’s) just the way I’d say my parents raised me. Nobody really likes when kids are cocky. They like a humble person who can compete at high levels but they are nice to people and can carry themselves well, and that’s how I’ve been raised.”

In this together: “This year I feel we’re having a lot more fun. We’re going out there and scoring points, and competing a lot harder than I think previous years too. Doing it for a cause greater than yourself, I think that’s helped a lot too. Because if you’re doing it for yourself, you can get nervous. But if you’re doing it for your team and for your friends, that can help take some of the pressure off.”

Ready to help: “I want to go into physical therapy. My brother’s been in physical therapy quite a few times. I’ve been in it quite a few times now. It’s interesting, and I want to being able to help other sports people, or anyone be able to recover as fast as they can to get them back doing what they do.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army 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 2017-18 honorees:
January 18: Derek Maas, Holland West Ottawa swimming - Read
January 11: Lexi Niepoth, Bellaire basketball - Read
November 30: La'Darius Jefferson, Muskegon football - Read
November 23: Ashley Turak, Farmington Hills Harrison swimming - Read
November 16: Bryce Veasley, West Bloomfield football - Read 
November 9: Jose Penaloza, Holland soccer - Read
November 2: Karenna Duffey, Macomb L'Anse Creuse North cross country - Read
October 26: Anika Dy, Traverse City Central golf - Read
October 19: Andrew Zhang, Bloomfield Hills tennis - Read
October 12: Nolan Fugate, Grand Rapids Catholic Central football - Read
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Dundee's Brandon Whitman scores a takedown during the Temperance Bedford Tournament this season. (Middle) Whitman pins Lakewood St. Edward's Cody Howard during the Detroit Catholic Central Super Duals. (Photos courtesy of Dundee wrestling.)

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 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.)