Skatzka Caps Career Among 4-Time Champs
March 8, 2015
By Connor Chaney
Special for Second Half
AUBURN HILLS – On a night when the MHSAA paid tribute to its previous 19 four-time Wrestling Finals champions with a video played on the giant Palace scoreboard, Devin Skatzka remembers a couple shown giving him inspiration to accomplish the incredible feat himself.
Skatzka became No. 21 on that storied list, as he won by technical fall over Ida’s Alex Phillips in their 160-pound match in Division 3.
Earlier Saturday evening, Davison’s Lincoln Olson was No. 20, as he won his fourth title in Division 1, at 135 pounds.
“Freshman year is when I definitely thought I could do this (become a four- time champion),” Skatzka said. “It was a dream of mine to do this after watching (Davison’s) Brent Metcalf and (Fowlerville’s) Adam Coon and all the other guys do this.”
Skatzka had special company up close to watch him do it, as Richmond assistant coach, and more importantly his dad, Dennis Skatzka was on the side of the mat guiding him with former head coach and Richmond legend George Hamblin.
“Getting to enjoy this with my dad is pretty awesome,” Skatzka said.
Champion: Dakota Greer, Howard City Tri-County, Jr. (40-1)
Decision, 9-6, over Emilio Campos, Corunna, Jr. (11-2)
In building a champion, it always takes help from many. From parents to coaches to teachers, the effort is several layers in the making.
But to many wrestlers, that most important component may be their teammates and workout partners.
That was the case for Greer.
“I wouldn’t be here without him (referring to Tri-County 112-pounder Nick McGhan),” Greer said, “We have been wrestling since we were 3 years old”.
Champion: Jarrett Trombley, Corunna, Fr. (47-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Tristian Serbus, Corunna, Jr. (40-8)
It is never easy when teammates wrestle each other in a match during a tournament.
But when it’s the MHSAA Final, that’s even harder on all involved.
Trombley, a freshman, beat junior teammate Serbus, by a one-point decision.
“It was a great experience wrestling a teammate in the Finals,” Trombley said. “Being a four time state champion has always been the goal of mine, and this is just the beginning of that.”
Champion: Devin Schroder, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Jr. (47-1)
Decision, 3-0, over Aaron Kilburn, Richmond, Jr. (43-7)
Grand Rapids Catholic Central junior Devin Schroder took one step closer to history Saturday night, when he won his third straight MHSAA title.
It was the second straight year Schroder had to beat a returning champ to win; last year he beat Leslie’s Kanen Storr.
Kilburn won at 112 in 2014.
“It’s the great thing about this sport, you can be a state champion, a nation champion, but there is always going to be people coming at you with a target on your back,” Schroder said. “So all you have to do is just go knock them down. “
Champion: Reiley Brown, of Whitehall, Jr. (48-2)
Decision, 3-0, over Jerry Fenner, Birch Run, Sr. (52-4)
Brown willed himself to a championship. And sometimes that’s all it takes.
He had all the self-confidence in the world as he was battling a tough foe in Fenner, a champion two seasons ago. But positive thinking pushed Brown to the win.
“I am going to be a state champion,” Brown said. “That is what was going through my head as I secured that last-second takedown to win the match.”
Champion: Matt Santos, of Saginaw Swan Valley, Jr. (58-1)
Decision 3-1 over Kole Krauss, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Jr. (42-4)
Santos makes no apologies for the way he wrestles.
He admittedly is a defensive wrestler, and it worked again in a tough 3-1 win for his first MHSAA title. Santos was a runner-up two seasons ago.
“Wrestle my match, the whole time every tournament, it doesn’t matter who it is or what tournament it is,” Santos said. “States, Regionals it doesn’t matter. I go out and wrestle my match. That was my gameplan going into the Finals match, and I was sticking to this plan.”
Champion: Kanen Storr, Leslie, Jr. (54-1)
Decision, 9-4, over Zach Blevins, Dundee, Jr. (54-2)
Sometimes there is nothing better than a tough loss to motivate.
It worked for Storr, who lost out on winning his second MHSAA title last year when he was defeated by Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Schroder at 119 pounds.
Storr got that second title Saturday with an impressive 9-4 win.
“Every day when I am in the wrestling room, I remember last year’s State Finals,” Storr said. “I just remember the memory of losing, and it was so painful. But it’s what pushed me to work harder every single day.”
Champion: Nate Limmex, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Sr. (44-0)
Decision, 9-3, over Dakota Ball, Ida, Sr. (46-5)
Limmex hasn’t lost at The Palace since his freshman year.
He was at Lowell High School at the time, and took fourth in Division 2.
A move to Grand Rapids Catholic Central and three undefeated seasons and three Finals championships later, Limmex reflected
“No, I don’t think I have a favorite (championship); they have all been all pretty good,” Limmex said. “This was a good way to end the career, on top – it’s always good to go out with a win.”
Champion: Foster Karmon, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Jr. (30-0)
Major decision, 13-2, over Logan Merrick, Scottville Mason County Central, Jr. (47-9)
The Grand Rapids Catholic Central brigade continued at The Palace, as Karmon took to the mat to try and win his second straight Finals title.
Last year he won the 125-pound bout while wrestling at Allegan High School. But a family move to Grand Rapids and a jump in weight classes changed little, as he won this time by major decision.
“My strategy is more of my mindset with me. I just had to look at it as one more match,” Karmon said.
Champion: Hunter Gasper, Standish-Sterling, Soph. (52-1)
Decision, 6-0, over Brandon Dyke, Allendale, Sr. (43-4)
Gasper had a strategy to dominate.
He held to that plan in claiming his first MHSAA championship and finishing this season with only one loss.
“Just take control of the match and dominate the whole match,” Gasper said. “That’s what I did, and it feels great to win as a sophomore.”
Champion: Brandon Whitman, Dundee, Fr. (57-2)
Decision 8-2, over Kevin Curby, Hillsdale, Sr. (47-7)
It’s not often when a freshman comes into high school wrestling and wins on a consistent basis at one of the heavier weight classes.
But that’s exactly what Whitman did this winter, as he won 57 matches and then a title Saturday night.
“I was super excited, and I was a little bit nervous,” Whitman said. “I didn’t know how big (MHSAA Finals) was and what was going to be happening, but when I started wrestling I felt more confident.”
It was fifth time Whitman wrested Curby this year; Whitman won all five times.
Champion: Jared Roehl, Millington, Soph. (49-0)
Decision 5-2, over Chase Beard, Allegan, Soph. (54-3)
Sticking with impressive underclassmen, a pair of super sophomores wrestled for the 189-pound title.
Millington’s Jared Roehl stayed undefeated with a close decision to close his second trip to the Finals.
“After taking sixth as a freshman last year and hurting my shoulder and eventually having to get shoulder surgery, this feels a lot better, that for sure,” Roehl said. “Finally being able to take the top of the podium healthy is all I can ask for.”
Champion: Trent Hillger, Lake Fenton, Soph. (58-0)
Decision, 6-0, over Grant Tennihill, Grand Rapids Catholic Central, Sr. (40-4)
Division 3 looks highly competitive for years to come, as another sophomore shined at 215 pounds.
Hillger won 6-0 to cap a perfect 58-0 season.
“I have been working toward this my whole life,” Hillger said. “This feels great.”
Champion: Maddox Maki, Williamston, Jr. (53-6)
Decision, 2-0, over Tim Smith, Benzie Central, Sr. (35-4)
Sometimes winning an MHSAA title when you are a freshman can seem like an unrealistic goal.
That’s how Williamston junior Maddox Maki felt. But as a junior, that dream became reality.
“As a freshman I kind of joked around saying I could win a state title, and as the years went on it became more and more realistic and finally it came,” Maki said. “Now I did it and it feels great.”
PHOTO: Richmond’s Devin Skatzka is saluted by the crowd after becoming the 21st in MHSAA history to win a fourth Finals championship. (Click to see more at 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.)