Hi all, I'm interested in clutch advice too. Just got an 02 wagon. All parts stock. Clutch will be a necessary first mod, and I don't want to cut short on future upgrades while I've got it open. This will be an aggressive DD and probably Rally-Xer.
As a newbie, I have to ask, what is Stage II? Is this the clutch level I want? Is Exedy standard, midgrade, or high performance brand?
Slowing down (at any speed) equals downshifting, unless you are trying to save gas by coasting. This will not hurt your tranny as long as you rev match properly. This is not synonymous with engine braking, which I do not recommend. Using the engine to slow down has few if any advantages, doesn't save gas, and generally deteriorates from competitive technique. Further, when done improperly, engine braking can cause transmission stress/damage.
Remember gone in 60 seconds? I think Nick Cage gives a good lesson to his gokart students. The name of the game is to be smooth. And prepared. So rev match for smooth transition, and downshift in preparation for your exit (of turn, stoplight, traffic, etc.).