Title IX at 50: Harrold's Achievement Heralds Growth of Girls Wrestling
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
January 11, 2022
This March, for the first time, 14 championships and 112 medals total will be awarded to the highest achievers from a girls-only division at the MHSAA Individual Wrestling Finals – the latest of history-making steps over the last 30 years of girls competing on the high school mat in Michigan.
There have been many heroes along the way, as participation has grown to see more than 400 girls wrestle at MHSAA member schools during the 2019-20 season, the last not interrupted by COVID-19 (and 283 took the mat last year despite reduced participation across the sport after a late start due to the coronavirus.)
About 900 athletes open the annual Individual Finals with a “grand march” to kick off the now two-day event. First among Michigan girls to join the parade was a pioneer from a now-closed high school who, by competing at Joe Louis Arena on March 11, 1999, took a major first step toward cultivating the opportunities of today.
Saginaw Buena Vista’s Cynthia Harrold, then a senior, brought a 29-7 record into the Finals and competed in Division 3 at 103 pounds. She lost both of her matches, but not without plenty of deserved fanfare for her accomplishments in making the journey. Many matches are wrestled simultaneously at the Finals, especially during the early rounds, and so many photographers swarmed to capture her matches that the adjacent mats needed to be shut down to accommodate the media crowd.
According to a Detroit Free Press report published that Thursday highlighting the start of the tournament, Harrold had won 98 matches over her four-year high school career. She also played softball and ran track, and previously was a cheerleader before turning her winter sports focus completely toward wrestling.
She was set to join the grand march that day in Detroit with 895 other wrestlers, all boys. The following year, three girls qualified for the Individual Finals. Martin’s Amy Berridge in 2004, Goodrich’s CC Weber in 2009 and Clawson’s Katlyn Pizzo in 2017 would become the first to place at the state championship wrestling tournaments, bringing additional spotlight to girls achieving at the high school level.
With interest continuing to grow, the Michigan Wrestling Association (the sport’s high school coaches association) began sponsoring a Girls Wrestling Finals in 2019 – with momentum from that event leading to the creation of the MHSAA girls individual championship division at Ford Field to debut this season.
Second Half's weekly Title IX Celebration posts are sponsored by Michigan Army National Guard.
Previous Title IX at 50 Spotlights
Dec. 20: Competitive Cheer Gives Michigan Plenty to Cheer About - Read
Dec. 14: Evelyn's Game Had Plenty of Magic - Read
Dec. 7: Council Term Ends, But Leinaar Leaves Lasting Impact - Read
Nov. 30: Basketball Season Ready to Add to Rich Tradition - Read
Nov. 23: Marysville Builds Winning Streak Yet to be Challenged - Read
Nov. 16: Wroubel Has Championed Girls School Sports from Their Start - Read
Nov. 9: Pioneer's Joyce Legendary in Michigan, National Swim History - Read
Nov. 2: Royal Oak's Finch Leading Way on Football Field - Read
Oct. 26: Coach Clegg Sets Championship Standard at Grand Blanc - Read
Oct. 19: Rockford Girls Set Pace, Hundreds After Have Continued to Chase - Read
Oct. 12: Bedford Volleyball Pioneer Continues Blazing Record-Setting Trail - Read
Oct. 5: Warner Paved Way to Legend Status with Record Rounds - Read
Sept. 28: Taylor Kennedy Gymnasts Earn Fame as 1st Champions - Read
Sept. 21: Portage Northern Star Byington Becomes Play-by-Play Pioneer - Read
Sept. 14: Guerra/Groat Legacy Continues to Serve St. Philip Well - Read
Sept. 7: Best-Ever Conversation Must Include Leland's Glass - Read
Aug. 31: We Will Celebrate Many Who Paved the Way - Read
(Photo courtesy of the Detroit News.)
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.)