Richmond: 'Nothing Compares to This'

February 28, 2015

By Chip Mundy
Special for Second Half 

BATTLE CREEK – With the MHSAA Division 3 wrestling championship at stake, Richmond senior Connor Behem had his Dundee opponent on his back Saturday afternoon at Kellogg Arena.

It was the first minute of their match, and the Dundee wrestler frantically was trying to raise his hand, as if he were reaching for a championship but in reality simply trying to avoid a pin. Behem, meanwhile, was using his wrestling repertoire as he tried to pin his opponent’s shoulders to the mat.

“Time was going by really slowly,” Behem said. “It felt like an hour when he was on his back, but I knew it was only a few seconds.” 

Finally, 67 seconds into the match, Behem got the pin, not only ending an incredible comeback that netted Richmond the MHSAA championship but writing a script that Hollywood would have a tough time turning down.

Richmond edged Dundee 27-25 for its seventh Finals championship and fourth in the past six years.

Richmond faced Dundee in the Final for the third year in a row, and Dundee, the two-time defending champion, had a comfortable 25-12 lead with three matches left. 

“I thought it was slipping away,” Richmond coach Brandon Day said. “For them to come out and do what they did, I’m so proud of them.”

After a decision by Adam Boyd and a pin by Roy Costello, Richmond pulled within 25-21 going into the final match at 112 pounds. Richmond needed a pin by Behem to win the championship, and when he pinned Wallace, the Richmond bench and crowd erupted with joy. 

“I kind of broke down emotionally,” Behem said. “It felt so good, words can’t even describe it.”

Behem’s knee locked up in the morning practice, and Roberts did not use him in the 32-19 victory over Remus Chippewa Hills in the Semifinal match.

“His ACL and meniscus are completely torn,” Day said. “He has practiced one day in the last three weeks. We were lucky enough to be able to sit him in the semis. ... Sacrifice won this for us, no doubt.” 

Behem played off the injury, as his euphoria likely dampened any pain he might have been feeling.

“My knee is a little bummed, but it’s all right,” he said. 

Boyd began the big comeback with a 3-0 victory over Gabe Heiserman at 285. Although a pin would have been huge, Richmond needed at least a decision to stay alive in the match.

“Everyone was telling me I had to get six, and it kind of got in my head a little bit,” Boyd said. “I kind of got away and started talking to our coach and Devin Skatzka, and they calmed me back down and said just get the win, and I got the win.” 

Next up was Costello at 103, and he wasted little time in deciding his match with a pin in 31 seconds.

“It was like do or die. I knew I had to do it,” Costello said. “I was so happy as soon as I locked that up. Then I just told Connor good luck. 

“I knew Connor was going to get that pin, but once the referee hit that mat, I was up. I was so happy I cried for joy.”

Behem took the mat with the weight of the entire wrestling program on his back and his weakened right knee. He felt it. 

“I was nervous, I’m not going to lie,” he said. “I saw my teammates get it done before me, so that helped me. I saw Roy pick up the pin and Adam pick up a big win, so once I got on the mat, all my nerves went away. It felt good.

“I could not have went out my senior year any better than this. Individuals (Finals) are pretty crazy, but nothing compares to team state finals. Nothing.” 

Richmond, which finished 32-5, won just six of the 14 matches in the Final but picked up nine bonus points with three pins. Skatzka, a three-time individual MHSAA champion, had the other pin in 56 seconds over Kyle Reinhart at 160 pounds.

Skatzka said the entire team was computing what it would take for the Blue Devils to erase the late 13-point deficit. 

“We all were counting it up in our head,” Skatzka said. “We knew we had our matches at 103 and 112, and we were kind of counting on pins from them, and it happened just how we counted on them.

“I can’t even describe what it felt like. It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever been through. I’ve won three state titles in my life and the team state title my freshman year. Nothing has been more exciting than this. Nothing compares to this.” 

Richmond’s other victories came on decisions by Aaron Kilburn at 125 and Austin Pawlak at 152.

Dundee, which has been in the MHSAA Finals in eight of the past nine years, ended its season at 25-6. Of their eight wins in the Final, only one registered more than the three points. Sophomore Sean Sterling scored a 22-9 major decision at 145 pounds. 

The seven other victories picked up by Dundee were by Drew Scholl (119), Drew Mandell (130), Kenny Reinhart (135), Zach Blevins (140), Donny Mandell (171), Brandon Whitman (189) and Tye Thompson (215).

“It was a good dual,” Dundee coach Tim Roberts said. “We end up having great duals every year. They have a great team and do a great job over there, and they have a great coach, obviously. 

“They did a super job, I have to give them credit.”

Six Dundee wrestlers finished 3-0 over the weekend: Donny Mandell, Reinhart, Blevins, Sterling, Whitman and Thompson. Skatzka and Costello were the only Richmond wrestlers to go 3-0 for the weekend. 

“I am so proud of the effort from everybody from top to bottom,” Day said. “We gave up bonus points one match, and we had three falls.

“That’s how you win state titles.”

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PHOTO: Richmond poses with its MHSAA Division 3 championship trophy Saturday at Kellogg Arena. (Click to see more at

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.)