Preview: D1 Features Historic Opportunity, Daunting Obstacle
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 30, 2021
Detroit Catholic Central will encounter a historic opportunity Tuesday at the MHSAA Division 1 Team Wrestling Finals.
But standing in the Shamrocks’ way might be its toughest opponent during this recent four-championship run.
DCC will wrestle for its fifth-straight team title. Davison is the only other Division 1 program to accomplish that feat – and carries the top seed this time after finishing runner-up to the Shamrocks both last season and in 2017.
The Quarterfinal pairings Tuesday at Wings Event Center are as follows:
Division 1 - 10 am - The Valley
#1 Davison - BYE - Mat 1
#4 Holt vs. #5 Rockford - Mat 2
#3 Hartland vs. #6 Clarkston - Mat 3
#2 Detroit Catholic Central vs. #7 Wyandotte Roosevelt - Mat 4
(Macomb Dakota opted out.)
Spectator limits remain in effect, but all matches will be broadcast live and viewable with subscription on MHSAA.tv. Below is a look at all eight teams competing in Division 1, listed by seed.
Record/rank: 17-0, No. 1
League finish: No league title awarded this season.
Coach: Zac Hall, first season (17-0)
Championship history: Eight MHSAA championships (most recent 2006), six runner-up finishes. Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Justin Gates (17-0) fr., 112 Aden Williams (19-2) jr., 119 Caden Horwath (21-0) soph., 125 Cameron Freeman (20-3) jr., 125 Brendan Maybee (17-6) jr., 135 Evan Herriman (18-1) soph., 140 Owen Payne (22-1) jr., 145 Kyle White (17-5) jr., 152 James Johnston (21-1) sr., 160 Josh Barr (20-0) soph., 171 Alex Facundo (20-0) sr., 189 Landon Kish (16-5) sr., 215 Jimmy Colley (14-0) jr., 285 Tyler Jelinek (19-1) sr.
Outlook: This will be Davison’s 10th-straight Quarterfinal, and the Cardinals come in favorites this time in part thanks to a 36-9 win over Detroit Catholic Central earlier this month. Facundo won 171 last season and this weekend will attempt to become the 29th four-time Individual Finals champion in MHSAA history. Horwath and Barr started possible four-time quests with their first titles as freshmen last season at 103 and 152, respectively. Other returning individual placers from last season including Herriman (fourth at 135), Johnston (third at 145), Colley (third at 215) and Jelinek (sixth at 285).
#2 DETROIT CATHOLIC CENTRAL
Record/rank: 19-1, No. 2
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Central
Coach: Mitch Hancock, 14th season (312-49)
Championship history: Fifteen MHSAA championships (most recent 2020), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Drew Heethuis (23-0) soph., 119 Anthony Walker (18-2) jr., 119 Clayton Jones (20-3) soph., 125 Cory Thomas (18-5) fr., 125 Mason Stewart (15-6) fr., 135 Steven Shellenberger (14-3) soph., 135 Dylan Gilcher (19-1) soph., 140 Philip Burney (18-3) sr., 140 Tatum Bunn, (17-3) soph., 145 Darius Marines (11-1) fr., 145 Camden Trupp (17-2) sr., 160 Cameron Adams (19-4) soph., 171 John Browning (7-2) sr., 189 Manuel Rojas (22-2) jr.
Outlook: A fifth-straight Division 1 championship Tuesday would make DCC just the fourth program to win five in a row since 1988 when for the first time team championships were awarded based on dual competition. The only loss, as noted above, was to top-ranked Davison. A number of standouts have graduated the last four seasons, and the projected lineup features only four seniors. But there’s still plenty of championship-pressure experience – Gilcher (112) and Rojas (189) won individual championships last season, while Heethuis was third at 103, Bunn was fifth at 125, Trupp was runner-up at 135 and Burney was sixth at that weight.
Record/rank: 22-0, No. 3
League finish: First in Kensington Lakes Activities Association West
Coach: Todd Cheney, 29th season (809-112-2)
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2016, five runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 103 Jake Gillespie (24-3) fr., 112 Patrick Wlodyga (18-3) jr., 125 Ethan Kinch (24-2) jr., 135 Luke Thornton (28-0) sr., 135 Vinnie Abbey (25-3) fr., 140 Nick Dimitroff (18-2) soph., 145 Owen Edgar (13-6) sr., 160 Brayden Bobo (22-2) soph., 171 Avery Dickerson (26-0) jr., 189 Chase Kern (26-1) soph., 215 Paul Corder (20-2) sr.
Outlook: This will be Hartland’s 20th-straight trip to the Quarterfinals, and the Eagles will be seeking their first Semifinal berth since 2017. Wlodyga was fourth last season at 103, Dickerson was fourth at 171, and sophomore Nick Rochowiak was fifth at 140 and will wrestle 152 this week. Hartland allowed only a combined 15 points over its first four postseason wins.
Record/rank: 25-1, No. 6
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue
Coach: Rocky Shaft, 41st season (624-107)
Championship history: Four MHSAA championships (most recent 2008), two runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Ryan Mosher (25-3) soph., 125 Zach Platte (21-5) sr., 130 Jason Jones (19-6) jr., 140 Ralph Thompson (28-2) jr., 152 Alex Russell (23-4) jr., 160 Adam Russell (23-5) sr., 171 Nathan Bremer (22-3) jr., 285 Joshua Terrill, 21-3) jr.
Outlook: The Rams eliminated Finals regular Brighton 43-29 in the Regional Final to advance to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2013. A Semifinal berth would be Holt’s first since its runner-up run in 2009. Only two seniors start, with seven juniors who could help the Rams continue to rise next winter. Platte, Bremer and Terrill were Finals qualifiers last season.
Record/rank: 19-3, No. 9
League finish: First in Ottawa-Kent Conference Red
Coach: Brian Richardson, 12th season (255-114)
Championship history: Two MHSAA championships (most recent 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 112 Jak Keller (24-1) soph., 119 Elijah Bunn (24-2) soph., 130 Logan Schwartz (13-7) soph., 140 Brysonn Aulbach (18-8) jr., 152 Trenton Wachter (19-1) sr., 152 Colin Harju (10-4) sr., 160 Ryan Ahern (21-1) fr., 171 Moses Bosscher (22-5) sr., 189 Luke Watkins (21-4) sr.,
Outlook: Rockford is making its third-straight trip to the Quarterfinals and seeking to take the next step into the Semifinals for first time since its runner-up season of 2010. The Rams defeated another regular, Grandville, 37-16 in the Regional Final to advance. Wachter was third at 140 last season.
Record/rank: 16-7, No. 10
League finish: Third in Oakland Activities Association Red
Coach: Brian Gibbs, first season (16-7)
Championship history: Class A champion 1991, runner-up 1995.
Individual Finals qualifiers: 125 Ashton Anderson (21-4) sr., 130 Auggie Anderson (10-3) soph., 152 Grady Castle (21-3) sr., 160 John Lord (14-11) sr.
Outlook: Gibbs moved up to take over the program after three seasons as an assistant, and the Wolves continued to roll with their third-straight Regional title. They defeated No. 7 Romeo 36-28 in the Regional Semifinal on the way to Kalamazoo this time. Ashton Anderson finished third at 125 last season.
#7 WYANDOTTE ROOSEVELT
Record/rank: 17-4, unranked
League finish: First in Downriver League
Coach: Brett Greene, 18th season (334-161)
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Individual Finals qualifier: Lu Peterson (22-0) jr.
Outlook: Roosevelt is headed to the Quarterfinals for the first time after edging Westland John Glenn 33-32 in the Regional Final. The Bears also won their third-straight District title and fifth in six seasons. This could be just the start; Roosevelt has only two seniors among its projected starters for Tuesday, but six freshmen.
PHOTO: Davison’s Aden Williams, left, and Detroit Catholic Central’s Drew Heethuis wrestle during last season’s Division 1 Final at Wings Event Center. (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 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.)