This Time, for the 1st Time, it's Hartland

February 27, 2016

By Jeff Chaney
Special for Second Half

MOUNT PLEASANT – Todd Cheney sat on his chair in silence and wiped tears from his face.

With sophomore 119-pounder Carter Hankins losing by just a decision to Davison returning MHSAA individual champion A.J. Facundo, Cheney knew his Hartland wrestling team has locked up the Division 1 championship at the Team Wrestling Finals at Central Michigan University's McGuirk Arena Saturday evening.

The reason for the tears: it finally happened for Cheney and his program. His team won a title after so many near-misses, beating Davison 36-23.

"That runner-up stuff was for the birds," Cheney said. "Just to look at the kids’ faces, and to see everything that they worked for – this was huge."

For 15 straight years, Cheney's Hartland teams qualified for the Finals. During that time, the Eagles made it to the Semifinal round 12 times, and five times were MHSAA runner-up, including after a heart-breaking loss to Brighton in last year's Division 1 championship match.

But this team was focused, and Davison coach Roy Hall knew that coming in.

"Those guys made a commitment, they cut down to scratch weight and they were focused for this," Hall said. "They came here on a mission this weekend."

After falling behind 3-0, Hartland went on a huge run, getting a decision from Reece Hughes at 140 pounds and pins from Sage Castillo at 145, Logan Vish at 152 and Lucas LaForge at 160.

That made the score 21-3, and the Eagles (34-1) never looked back.

"That was huge," Cheney said of the three straight pins. "We pinned them at 152 and 160 last time, and we beat them by one. This was good to get them early." 

Cheney said the way some of his wrestlers lost was big as well, like Hankins and freshman Corey Cavanaugh, who lost by technical fall to past MHSAA individual champion Max Johnson but did not give up a pin and six points.  

"Gosh, these kids, I hope you get pictures of their faces," an emotional Cheney said. "This means so much."

Hartland and Davison (24-5) earned their way to the Final with two totally different Semifinal wins.

Hartland had little trouble in beating Oxford 42-19, as the Eagles won the first four matches to jump out to a 20-point lead, and never looked back from there.

In all, Hartland won 10 of 14 matches wrestled against Oxford, five of those by bonus points, and three by pin (Castillo at 152 pounds, Vish at 160 and Brandon Krol at heavyweight).

In the other Semifinal, another highly anticipated match in Division 1, Davison beat Detroit Catholic Central 29-25. Kurt Schlak secured the win for the Cardinals with a 16-8 major decision over Tyler Johnson in the final match of the dual at 145 pounds.

That Semifinal was tight throughout, as each team won seven matches. But of Davison's seven wins, four were bonus-point wins (by major decision or pin), while the Shamrocks had only two bonus-point match wins. 

Click for full results.

The MHSAA Wrestling Finals are presented by the Michigan Army National Guard.

PHOTOS: (Top) Logan Vish celebrates a pin at 152 pounds that put Hartland up 15-3. (Middle) Hartland coach Todd Cheney (right) and assistant Garnet Potter share a moment during the Eagles’ first championship win. (Click to see more at; bottom photo by Jeff Chaney.)

Bragging Rights for Both as Multi-Sport Sage Twins Shine at Ford Field

By Keith Dunlap
Special for

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.

Greater DetroitThat 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 DunlapKeith 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.)