Sturgis Finds Place Among State's Elite
March 1, 2016
By Wes Morgan
Special for Second Half
In his ninth year guiding the Sturgis wrestling team, Bryan Boughton still didn’t feel as if he belonged to the fraternity of accomplished coaches who also led their respective teams into the MHSAA Division 2 Quarterfinals on Friday.
Nobody paid much attention to him or his eighth-seeded Trojans, who were there for the first time in school history. Even perennial power and defending champion Lowell overlooked Sturgis in that opening matchup at Central Michigan University.
In the end, Sturgis didn’t have nearly enough firepower to overtake Lowell, which won the Quarterfinal match, 52-18, before eventually beating second-seeded St. Johns on Saturday for the championship.
“We did some damage to Lowell and actually got the coach’s attention,” Boughton said.
The Trojans, who finished the year 27-8 overall and second to Allegan in the Wolverine Conference, held an 18-10 lead through the first six weight classes against Lowell, but a gang of state-ranked wrestlers in the lower weights for the Red Arrows proved to be far more than Sturgis could handle.
After the disappointment of losing began to subside, the Trojans recognized how much of an accomplishment it was to reach the big stage.
“It was a really cool experience,” said senior Cole Campbell, a winner by pin at 189 pounds vs. Lowell. “We were already facing the number one school in D2, so our coach wasn't really on us like it was a must win. “It was more of a, 'You know what's coming; go out and wrestle,' attitude towards it.
“Our main goal this year was to win Regionals, and we accomplished that, so anything after was really a bonus. The atmosphere was a lot different than a normal match, too. A lot of eyes are on you and big swings in momentum match by match. We actually got to start in the tougher part of our lineup, so we were going back and forth through the first half of the dual.”
The 2014-15 season was integral for the Sturgis program. With a school record of 35 dual-meet victories, Boughton believed last year would be the breakout campaign for the Trojans. A Regional championship bout against Niles, however, proved to be the wrong matchup for the Trojans.
With the bulk of its lineup returning intact this winter, including strong upper weights with the likes of seniors Luke Carver (160 pounds), Campbell, Anthony Neal (215) and Jake Stevens (285), Sturgis hoped to pair its better team with a more favorable postseason path.
That all came together when Sturgis thumped Vicksburg by 69 points and topped Mattawan, 40-27, in the District tournament before eking past Stevensville-Lakeshore, 30-27, and soundly defeating Battle Creek Harper Creek at Regionals.
“Wrestling is all about matchups and how people line up,” Boughton said. “I thought we were going to have to face Niles again. But when I found out Lakeshore beat them, I was like, ‘Ooh, we might actually have a chance at this.’”
Boughton said the Trojans started to believe again. He also noticed they were “fresh, fat and happy” at a time of year when a lot of grapplers are struggling with diminished energy reserves from making weight.
“They got the fire and everybody did their job, things went our way and we were able to take advantage of it because we were prepared,” Boughton explained.
And they had more than just the “Four Horsemen,” as Boughton called his stalwarts at the upper weights. Wrestlers such as Noah Gleason (135) and Koehl Meek (145), as they had been all season, were key cogs in the Trojans’ successful march toward March.
“The experience was great,” said Carver, who along with Neal and Stevens, will compete this week at the Individual Finals at The Palace of Auburn Hills. “It was something that when I was a freshman I never thought we could accomplish. We have a special group in the room, the kind of kids who might not be the most skilled or strongest, but have heart.
“I think that's what made the difference for us this year. Drawing Lowell was hard, but I think we displayed that message that we don't roll over for anyone. As a captain, I couldn't be more proud of our team and I look forward to watching them grow from here.”
Wes Morgan has reported for the Kalamazoo Gazette, ESPN and ESPNChicago.com, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of JoeInsider.com. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Cole Carver works toward a win at 160 pounds Friday against Lowell in a Division 2 Quarterfinal. (Middle) Cole Campbell’s hand is raised after he wins his match at 189 pounds. (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.)