Repeat Reaffirms Clinton's Spot Among Annual Contenders
By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com
March 30, 2021
KALAMAZOO – The Clinton wrestling program took its place at the top of Division 4 a year ago, claiming the first Finals title in school history.
On Tuesday, it emphatically announced that it’s here to stay.
Clinton rolled through its competition throughout the day, topped off with a 55-9 win against New Lothrop at Wings Event Center, to claim its second-straight Division 4 title.
“I think now people know that we’re the real deal,” Clinton co-coach Jeff Rolland said. “We solidified what we did last year. We’ve got a lot of young kids – there's only four guys in our lineup every day that aren’t going to be here next year. We did this without three all-staters in our lineup from last year. We have a lot of depth. We have more coming. I think people know that we’re for real now. It’s not a one-year deal or whatever.”
Clinton was dominant throughout the postseason, and closed it out the same way, winning 76-6 in the Quarterfinal against Ravenna and 59-9 in the Semifinal against Leslie. That’s despite what Rolland said was a performance in the Semifinal that was less than the team’s best. But Clinton has reached the point where it can win even when it’s not at the top of its game.
“Since my freshman year we were chasing it and we fell short, then we fell short again my sophomore year,” senior Landis Gillman said. “My junior year we really picked it up, and we got into the mindset that we wanted it. We became a family. We’ve just been striving and pushing ourselves to the limits to reach this point.”
And in case there was any doubt remaining about the program’s status, Clinton has won its titles against the two programs that had dominated the division for more than a decade prior – Hudson (2020) and New Lothrop.
“Last year was big because we had to go through both,” Rolland said. “New Lothrop, if they’re not the most storied program in the state, I don’t know who is. We’ve got nothing but respect for that team, those guys. It makes it special when you beat a team like that, for sure.”
It was Gillman who started Clinton off with a bang in the Finals, as he bumped up to 140 pounds and won by major decision against New Lothrop’s Andrew Krupp in a matchup of wrestlers ranked in the top three.
Clinton won the first six matches of the dual, five by major decision – by Gillman, Kent McCombs (145), AJ Baxter (152), Spencer Konz (160) and Logan Badge (189) – and one with a first-period pin from Brayden Randolph (171).
“Landis had a day today,” Rolland said. “He went through some kids today. That was big. He’s up a weight class. He’s very, very good as you saw. But a major starting out, I think our kids fed off that. I’m so proud of that kid. He’s a senior, he spent two years on the bench, waited his turn, and now he’s got his shot.”
New Lothrop picked up its two wins in the dual at 215 and 285, as Grayson Orr won a 4-3 decision, followed by a second-period fall from Isiah Pasik.
Clinton closed the dual out with six straight wins, however, as Connor Younts (103) and Ethan Younts (135) each won by pin, Nik Shadley (125) won by technical fall, and Coy Perry (112) and Zak Shadley (130) won by decision. Connor Busz (119) won by forfeit.
“We did what we needed to do; we wrestled those kids hard,” New Lothrop coach Jeff Campbell said. “They sent a kid out at every weight that was a very talented wrestler, a very experienced wrestler who was well-coached, and we had to compete hard against them, and every single kid did. We just didn’t have as much ammunition as they did today. But I was really, really proud of our effort. We made plenty of mistakes, but we definitely made every point get earned, and that’s all we can try to do.”
The championship match appearance was the first since 2018 for the Hornets, who had made five straight starting in 2014 and have won 15 team titles.
“It’s an expectation – from the youth level up, we try to put ourselves in a position to do well,” Campbell said. “I think it’s great for our younger guys, and those younger guys that got to step onto the mat. It’s another one of those years when we lose a good crop of seniors. I told them out here, ‘You seniors, your legacy isn’t whether or not you win or lose this last match or you win or lose a state title yourself. It’s what did you teach the kids along the way? Even when you didn’t know they were watching, what were you doing? How hard were you working? Were you cutting weight the right way? Did you compete in these matches when you were the underdog fearless and wrestle hard?’ They showed that today.”
New Lothrop defeated Bark River-Harris 54-20 in the Quarterfinal, and received a bye in the Semifinal, as both Hudson and Schoolcraft were disqualified for putting in a wrestler at an ineligible weight in their Quarterfinal.
Gillman, McCombs, Baxter, Randolph, Badge, Connor Younts, Perry, Busz and Zak Shadley each picked up three wins on the day for Clinton.
PHOTOS: (Top) Clinton’s Landis Gillman wrestles New Lothrop’s Andrew Krupp during Tuesday’s Division 4 Final. (Middle) Clinton celebrates its repeat championship. (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.)