Teammates, Gracious Opponents As Well
March 2, 2013
By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half
AUBURN HILLS — It was a surreal scene at the edge of the mat when Austin Eicher and Jacob Gorial met for the 130-pound title in the MHSAA Division 1 wrestling tournament Saturday at The Palace.
Coaches can often get quite animated when their wrestlers are going for a championship. But the coaches in Eicher's and Gorial's corners sat quietly in their chairs, occasionally smiling as they took in the action as passive observers. One coach even got up to grab a cup of water while the match was in progress.
None of the four coaches watching matside was taking sides, not when both competing wrestlers wore the blue and gold of Hartland High School.
"We're both teammates," Gorial said. "It would've been unfair."
In only the sixth MHSAA championship match involving teammates, Eicher won a 5-0 decision over Gorial.
Eicher, a junior who finished 52-1, was the 119-pound runner-up last season. The teammates never met this season, with Eicher winning the District and Regional finals over Gorial by injury default.
"It was definitely different," Eicher said. "He's one of my best friends. We both wanted it. We've been working hard this whole year. It was both of our goals to win the state championship. I took something away from him, but I wasn't going to let him take it away from me.
"Once we're out there, we're just wrestling. We know we're friends before the match when we're warming up, but once we're wrestling, it's go time."
Gorial, a sophomore who finished 56-5, credited Eicher for making him a better wrestler in practice.
"I'm glad Austin won," Gorial said. "He worked hard. If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be here right now."
Click for full results, and read below for recaps of each championship match and comments from all the winners.
Champion: Robert Coe, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (45-4)
Decision, 3-0, over Parker Tillman, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central, Jr. (41-4)
Coe had a tougher battle this year against Tillman, but still prevailed to win the championship. Coe pinned Tillman at the 2:16 mark in a first-round match in last year's MHSAA Final.
Coe used an escape to break a 0-0 stalemate with less than 30 seconds remaining in the match.
"I was a little nervous at the beginning of the match," Coe said. "He came out really strong. He's bigger than I remember. I pinned him last year here. He got better this year."
Champion: Benny Gomez, Holt, Soph. (47-0)
Fall, 1:25, over Michael Volyanyuk, Farmington Hills Harrison, Soph. (45-8)
Gomez got his only pin in four matches at The Palace in the championship, but he was nonetheless dominant with two majority decisions and a 9-3 victory before the final.
He finished fourth at 103 pounds last year.
"It's still kind of hard to believe," Gomez said. "I had a lot of close matches this year, in and out of state. I grew and basically just competed all summer, no breaks, and pushed myself to get to this level."
Champion: Lincoln Olson, Davison, Soph. (46-2)
Decision, 10-4, over Kyle Gillies, Westland John Glenn, Sr. (55-1)
Olson held up two fingers toward the Davison cheering section after adding this year's 112 title to the 103-pound crown he won as a freshman.
He did so by handing Gillies his only loss in 56 matches this season. Olson also beat Gillies in the quarterfinals last year.
"Last season, I kind of shocked the world," Olson said. "No one knew me. Not much was expected of me. This year, they knew who I am. A lot of kids were content just getting beat by a few points."
Champion: Shayne Wireman, Holt, Sr. (46-0)
Decision, 6-3, over Mitch Rogaliner, Temperance Bedford, Sr. (48-3)
Wireman's victory gave him a 2-2 career record against Rogaliner in a rivalry that always seems to take place on a big stage.
Wireman beat Rogaliner 2-1 in the 103-pound final in 2011 before Rogaliner got revenge with a third-period pin in the 112-pound semifinals last year.
"It's always a fun match against him," Wireman said. "We're 2-2 against each other. We've dominated this weight class. We know each other very well."
Wireman will wrestle at Eastern Michigan, while Rogaliner is heading to Michigan State. "So we'll probably meet each other again," Wireman said.
Champion: Zach Henderson, Hudsonville, Sr. (40-7)
Decision, 6-4, over Martin Rodriquez, Holt, Jr. (17-1)
Henderson won three of his four matches at The Palace by two points or fewer to pull the upset.
Rodriquez beat Henderson by seven points in the Regional final to take an unbeaten record to The Palace.
"My brother looked on (Michigan) Grappler and said I wasn't favored to win at all," Henderson said. "I didn't think anything of it. He told me midway through. I'd already won twice. People were just speaking
wisdom and God's word to me. That gave me confidence."
Champion: Ken Bade, Detroit Catholic Central, Sr. (40-7)
Decision, 4-3 OT, over Matt Miller, Davison, Jr. (29-7)
A point awarded for stalling sent this match to overtime, and another awarded for grabbing head gear decided the title winner.
It was a strange ending for Bade's third MHSAA championship. He won at 125 in 2011 and 130 in 2012.
"There's no way you can prepare for that, except coach telling us throughout the year that you have to stay composed, you have to keep your cool," Bade said. "I stayed composed and was ready to go and went back on the line."
Champion: Malik Amine, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (40-6)
Decision, 11-6, over Eric Rybarz, New Baltimore Anchor Bay, Sr. (54-3)
Amine lost 9-6 to Alex Pantaleo of Canton in last year's 135-pound final, a loss that fueled the Catholic Central junior for the past 12 months.
"I used it as a driving force to have it affect my head in practice when I didn't want to do any more sprints or didn't want to do more shots," Amine said. "I had to push myself to be better."
Amine was fifth at 112 pounds in 2011.
Champion: Travis Mann, Westland John Glenn, Sr. (32-3)
Decision, 10-4, over Andrew Napieraj, Birmingham Brother Rice, Sr. (50-3)
Most high school wrestlers don't drop a weight class the following season, but Mann did so successfully.
Mann was fourth at 152 pounds last year before winning the 145 title on Saturday. Two of Mann's three losses were to Livonia Franklin's Jordan Atienza, the 152-pound runner-up.
"It's the greatest feeling ever," Mann said. "I've been training for this since I was 4 years old. I finally got it my senior year."
Champion: Nick Vandermeer, Clarkston, Sr. (44-5)
Fall, 4:17, over Jordan Atienza, Livonia Franklin, Jr. (58-1)
Vandermeer averted disaster and turned it into a championship, rolling out of a near-pin to record a pin of his own against the previously-unbeaten Atienza.
"I almost felt myself getting pinned," Vandermeer said. "I was warned he throws with his upper body. I didn't expect to be rolling. I had to get out, but I was able to re-roll him and catch him pretty much."
Vandermeer joined his brother, Matt, as MHSAA champions. Matt was the 171-pound champion in 2011.
Champion: Jordan Cooks, Davison, Jr. (43-1)
Decision, 8-5, over Logan Marcicki, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (35-6)
Cooks beat Marcicki for the second straight week to repeat as 160-pound champion.
Cooks scored a 5-3 decision over Marcicki in the team championship match, one that Catholic Central ultimately won.
"It feels amazing," Cooks said. "It feels a lot better than the first one. It means a lot, being my second one."
Champion: Drew Garcia, Detroit Catholic Central, Jr. (52-0)
Decision, 8-2, over Mitchel Thomas, Hartland, Sr. (59-2)
Garcia won Catholic Central's fourth and final individual championship of the day, repeating as the 171-pound winner.
Garcia brought big-time experience to The Palace, having also finished as the 152-pound runner-up in 2011. Thomas gave Garcia one of his tougher matches in a perfect junior campaign.
"He was good," Garcia said. "I wrestled him early in the year. He was one of the only kids who didn't gas in the third period, so I knew I'd have to wrestle a full six minutes. He's a tough kid."
Champion: Shwan Shadaia, Rochester, Jr. (54-1)
Decision, 4-3, over Chris Calvano, Clarkston, Sr. (40-5)
Shadaia became only the second Rochester wrestler to win an MHSAA title when he broke a 3-3 tie with an escape in the final seconds. Calvano had tied the match moments earlier.
"We drill these kinds of situations in practice all the time – 20 seconds, 15 seconds to win the state championship," Shadaia said. "That's what I took it as - another practice."
Rochester's only other champion was Shane Camera, a Class A winner in 1987 and 1989.
Champion: Brandon Sunday, Temperance Bedford, Sr. (51-1)
Decision, 5-4 OT, over Jordon Brandon, Westland John Glenn, Jr. (55-5)
Sunday stayed alive when Brandon was penalized for stalling with 10 seconds left in the third period, tying the match at 3-3. Sunday won by getting an escape with 20 seconds left in the final overtime
"It was crazy," Sunday said. "I just wrestled that kid in the team Regionals and individual Regionals. It was close every single time, two or less points. Definitely, he's my toughest opponent this year.
He's only a junior. He wrestles like he's in college."
Sunday was the 189-pound runner-up last year.
PHOTO: Hartland's Austin Eicher (right) works to take down teammate, and for this match opponent, Jacob Gorial during Saturday's Division 1 Individual Finals. (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@example.com 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.)