Strong Start Sends Tower Rising Again
January 17, 2019
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Wrestling Team Districts are in three weeks. Two weeks later, Michigan’s best teams will converge for the Finals at Kalamazoo’s Wings Stadium.
Teams at the elite level like Warren Woods-Tower point to those championship opportunities all season. And the Titans – Division 2 semifinalists last year, runners-up in 2017 – are aiming to shine that final weekend again, and after a start both promising and historic.
Tower – the MHSAA/Applebee’s Team of the Month for December – won the 45th Macomb County Invitational on Dec. 22, the Titans’ first victory at the prestigious event since 1985.
They bested a field that included current Division 1 No. 10 Macomb Dakota and Division 3 No. 5 Algonac, which followed in second and third, respectively. Tower is ranked No. 4 in Division 2 this week.
“It wasn’t that we won it; it was the fashion that we won it in,” Tower coach Greg Mayer said while looking back this week. “We had some guys who had great performances. We had some guys who were unseeded who placed. We had a couple kids upset some kids – pretty much everybody outwrestled where they were seeded.
“It took everybody. The margin of victory was so slim. … It’s nice to see that some of those other guys, their efforts paid off and they contributed. It gives some kids confidence in their training efforts. They can believe in that because they’ve got results to stand behind them.”
Tower edged Dakota by 2.5 points at the County tournament after finishing second to Dakota in both 2017 and 2016.
Along the way this time, senior Chaise Mayer – Greg’s nephew – became the fourth four-time County champion, winning the 130-pound weight class. Freshman Omari Embree won the 160-pound class, while sophomore Joey Haynes (119) and senior David Stepanian (135) were runners-up.
The County tournament success followed a notable run earlier in December at Tower’s Titan Duals, where the team fell to Oxford and Goodrich but defeated Eaton Rapids and Richmond. Oxford is No. 7 in Division 1 this week and Goodrich is No. 3 in Division 2, while Eaton Rapids is No. 2 in Division 2 and Richmond is No. 2 in Division 3.
The Titans headed into this week 6-3 in duals and coming off a runner-up finish at their Saturday Clash of Champions, where they finished second to Division 1 No. 9 Holt.
A number of Titans are shining through the first half of the season, with records especially impressive considering the teams Tower has faced over the last seven weeks. Chaise Mayer, a two-time Finals runner-up and third-place finisher a year ago, is 21-3, as is Haynes and senior Joel Radvansky (285 pounds this winter and last season’s Finals runner-up at 215). Freshman Josh Howey (23-6, 112 pounds), sophomore Gavin Shoobridge (22-6, 119) and senior CJ Shier (20-5, 215) are all over 20 wins, with Embree (18-3) approaching.
The tests will continue, and immediately. Hudson’s Super 16 tournament is Saturday, and next Thursday’s dual against Macomb Dakota likely will end up determining the champion of the Macomb Area Conference Red this winter.
Then comes the MHSAA Tournament, and all of Division 2’s quest to unseat five-time reigning champion Lowell. Tower, seeking its first Finals championship in wrestling, is doing its work now to be ready for an opportunity to show this season’s first month was a precursor for the last.
“We’re still a work in progress. We still have a lot of room for improvement. We’re still chasing,” Greg Mayer said. “We’re not the frontrunners. That still belongs to Lowell, and I think everybody else is chasing them.
“I think we can compete with anybody in the state. As long as we continue to improve, I think we’ll be OK.”
Past Teams of the Month, 2018-19
November: Rochester Adams girls swimming & diving – Read
October: Leland boys soccer – Read
September: Pickford football – Read
August: Northville girls golf – Read
PHOTOS: (Top) Warren Woods-Tower's David Stepanian, left, prepares to lock up with an opponent during the Macomb County Invitational. (Middle) The Titans raise the County championship trophy, their first since 1985. (Photos courtesy of C&G Newspapers.)
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.)