Undefeated, still champion, now legend
March 4, 2012
AUBURN HILLS – Taylor Massa looked up to Davison’s Brett Metcalf as a kid and grew up only 30 minutes from Williamston’s Simmons brothers. And the St. Johns senior surely knows all about Hesperia’s Justin Zeerip as well.
Massa has been mentioned with those names for three seasons, since going undefeated and winning his first MHSAA individual title as a freshman in 2009. Now, he will be discussed as arguably the best of the group.
As expected, Massa finished his high school career with one more win Saturday at The Palace of Auburn Hills, pinning Ferndale’s Chevez Farris in 2:35 to earn the Division 2 championship at 171 pounds. In doing so, Massa also became the 15th in MHSAA history to win four individual titles. And he joined Metcalf, Zeerip and Nick and Andy Simmons among wrestlers who never lost in MHSAA competition.
“Brett Metcalf, he’s one of my biggest idols ever. I looked up at him growing up and I was like, I want to do what he’s doing,” Massa said. “That’s what I strived for, and I hope I can motivate some kid enough to go out and work hard enough to earn this. Because it’s not given. You earn this.”
He earned 221 wins over four seasons, tying for 20th-most in the MHSAA record book – and that’s with going only 42-0 this season. He won 59 matches as both a freshman and junior and 61 as a sophomore.
Massa also stacked his wins in what are traditionally some of the most comeptitive weight classes. His championships came at 145, 152, 160 and 171 pounds. And, as his coach Zane Ballard pointed out, Massa beat reigning MHSAA champions and anyone he could find as soon as he first walked onto the high school mat.
“In my personal opinion, yeah, he is the best of the bunch. For high school, I’ve never seen anybody that dominant,” Ballard said. “I’ve watched the other ones. They’re all great wrestlers. All great people, and I have all the respect for them in the world. But in my eyes, Taylor is number one and will be, in high school, until somebody does it in a more impressive fashion.”
Massa said during the Team Finals that he already had more than 200 pins for his career – and that was before getting four more this weekend. Zeerip holds the MHSAA record with 203 pins for a career, but Massa could be at the top of the list when his final statistics are compiled.
He won by pin in 11 of 16 career Individual Finals matches. But Farris didn’t make this one easy. Massa led just 2-0 after the first period before gaining control early in the second.
Massa's 221 wins without a loss will place him seventh in the national record book for consecutive victories. He’s wrestled internationally and wants to make a run at the Olympics. He’s signed to continue his career at the University of Michigan next season.
But Saturday’s finish – along with team championships St. Johns won the last three seasons – ranks right up there with the best of what he’s accomplished so far.
“This is one of the top things,” Massa said. “It’s a great honor.”
PHOTO (top): Massa wrestles Ferndale's Chevez Farris in the Division 2 171-pound Final. See more photos from the Finals and all season at High School Sports Scene.
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.)