Team Finals Make McGuirk Arena Debut
February 27, 2016
By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half
MOUNT PLEASANT – Change can be good, but difficult at the same time.
After 28 years competing at Battle Creek's Kellogg Arena, the Michigan High School Athletic Association moved it's team wrestling finals to Central Michigan University's McGuirk Arena this weekend.
MHSAA assistant director in charge of wrestling, Mark Uyl, knows a lot of good faith and memories were made since 1988, the year of the inception of the Team finals and the first year in Battle Creek. But he also knew the change was needed.
"This was very hard, because the people of Battle Creek were outstanding; that's what made this a tough decision," Uyl said. "But the facility (Kellogg Arena) told us this was time. We were looking at the total wrestling experience, from the warm-up area, to a newer building and the ample hotel space, and Central Michigan said they could take care of all those needs – and did."
Those needs were met. But like any big move, some issues happen. And that was no different then on Friday, the first day of the Team Finals.
"Overall it's been good, but we do have some little things to work on," Uyl said. "Give it some time. We'll get some good feedback, and we'll make the proper changes."
Some feedback was already taking place.
"I see some changes that have the move headed in the right direction," said New Lothrop coach Jeff Campbell, whose reigning Division 4 championship team opened up action with a 69-10 win over Munising. “Having an area for the kids to warm up is big. I never understood not having one in Battle Creek, asking a kid to wrestle one of the biggest matches of his career and not having a proper warm up area."
Floor space may be at a premium, but the good side of that is the proximity of the fans to the mats and wrestlers.
The arena was loud Friday.
"There are a lot of big changes," said Hartland senior 140-pounder Reece Hughes, who is wrestling in his fourth team finals this weekend. "The atmosphere in Battle Creek was phenomenal, it felt like the team finals. There was a lot of history there, but I can definitely feel the atmosphere build here, too."
Pluses noted by fans in attendance were the finals being on a college campus, and public address announcers updating action on the mat as the matches were being wrestled.
And thankfully, the MHSAA brought Battle Creek's Jeff McGinnis with them to Mount Pleasant, because his rendition of the National Anthem is iconic.
PHOTOS: (Top) Wrestlers stand for the national anthem before Friday's Division 1 matches. (Middle) The stands are nearly filled as wrestlers compete in Quarterfinals. (Photos by Michelle Campbell.)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.)