Carrollton's Voltz Making Big Leap in Long Jump

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

May 5, 2021

It makes sense that DJ Voltz excels at the long jump.

The Carrollton junior is fast – he qualified for the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals in the 100 meters as a freshman. He’s also a multi-year all-state honoree in both football and basketball, a testament to his incredible athleticism.

How quickly he has exceled, though, is a little shocking. 

Voltz’s jump of 22 feet, 2.5 inches, recorded April 30 at the Caro Tiger Invitational, is the state’s best early this season. He hit the mark in only his fifth time competing in the event.

“It’s really his first year doing it,” Carrollton track & field coach David Jaworski said. “He knew he wanted to long jump, and we knew with his speed and his athletic ability, it was something he could excel at. He’s a real competitive person. When he started, he was only able to hit (18 and 19 feet), but he’s been working with our jumpers coach, and one day he started hitting 20 and 21 consistently. It’s taken off from there.”

Extraordinary athletic achievement is nothing new for Voltz. He’s a star on the football field and the basketball court for the Cavaliers, having been named honorable mention all-state by The Associated Press in both sports as a sophomore and again as a junior in basketball, and second-team all-state as a junior in football. 

His position listing for football was specialist, which, while accurate, also doesn’t seem to fully encapsulate Voltz’s role.

“He is kind of a jack of all trades,” said Jaworski, who is also Carrollton’s offensive coordinator. “We line him up at quarterback, running back, receiver, punt returner, kick returner. He played corner his first couple years, but this year we had a little more pressing needs, so he went back and played safety for us. He kind of plays where we need him to.”

Carrollton footballFootball is king for Voltz, who plans to attend camps at Central Michigan and Grand Valley State among others this summer, and has a scholarship offer from Division II Gannon University in Florida. 

The 6-foot-3 speedster is being recruited as a cornerback at the next level, which would put him on the taller side of the position – the average NFL cornerback is just under 6 foot.

“They’ve been telling me when I get there, they like how I’m lanky and long,” Voltz said. “It’s easier for me to break up and intercept passes. I’m long and fast, and they said I’ve got quick feet, so I can stay with receivers.”

When asked what his position was on the basketball court, Voltz laughed before settling on combo guard. He averaged 17.5 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.2 steals and 1.7 blocks this past season for a Carrollton team that was 13-5 and lost by one in the Regional Final.

“He doesn’t specialize in one thing,” Jaworski said. “He still goes and plays his AAU basketball tournaments. He has three or four football camps lined up early in June. He’s at track practice every day. He’s not one to miss things. He works tirelessly. He works with his own private trainer at times, and he’s also working hard at practice.”

That work ethic has quickly transformed Voltz from potential to production in the long jump, and there’s still room to grow.

“It’s all about the technique and how fast you’re running into it,” Voltz said. “You have to count your steps, make sure you jump and make sure you pick your feet up when you jump so you can have extra length in that sand pit. I still have a lot to learn. I really like doing long jump, and I’m getting the technique down. There’s always room to get better at it, and I’m trying to get even farther.”

The newfound success in the long jump has Voltz seriously considering adding track to his collegiate pursuits, and he said the football coaches he’s spoken with are on board with it.

For now, Voltz has his eyes on the school record, which at 23-2, he feels is attainable. He said he’s not thinking, yet, about potentially adding more all-state honors to his resume at the MHSAA Finals on June 5. 

“It’s still early,” he said. “I’m still focusing on getting better for that situation. I’m not really focused on the later on, I’m focused on what’s going on right now.”

His focus and constant presence with Carrollton athletics is something Jaworski said is setting an example for younger athletes in the community. Voltz is more than happy to add mentor to his long list of duties.

“It means a lot,” he said. “I want to set an example, and when I leave this school, I want to be one of the ones they talk about – one of the greats at Carrollton. I want them to want to follow in my footsteps and want to be better than me. I want them to beat my records one day.”

Paul CostanzoPaul Costanzo served as a sportswriter at The Port Huron Times Herald from 2006-15, including three years as lead sportswriter, and prior to that as sports editor at the Hillsdale Daily News from 2005-06. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Genesee, Lapeer, St. Clair, Sanilac, Huron, Tuscola, Saginaw, Bay, Arenac, Midland and Gladwin counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Carrollton’s DJ Voltz soars through a long jump attempt this spring. (Middle) Voltz fills one of his many roles on the Cavaliers’ football team. (Photos courtesy of the Carrollton track & field program & DJ Voltz.)

Red Devils Impress as Ironwood Honors Record-Setter with Jim LaBlonde Invitational

By John Vrancic
Special for

May 20, 2024

IRONWOOD — The Ironwood track & field teams provided themselves with an opportunity to do a victory lap on a very special Saturday earlier this month.

Upper PeninsulaBoth teams were crowned champions at the first Jim LaBlonde Invitational on May 11 on their 350-meter track during a sunny and mild afternoon.

The Ironwood girls scored 126 points, followed by Hurley, Wis., with 43, Ontonagon 37 and Watersmeet with 13. Ironwood’s boys collected 100 points, followed by Hurley at 84, Ontonagon 32 and Watersmeet with seven in a meet held in honor of the former Luther L. Wright High School star athlete who passed away due to an aneurysm on March 31, 2019.

LaBlonde, who was recently inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame, was an all-Upper Peninsula football player and still holds school records in the 100 and 200-meter dashes from his senior year in 1997.

“This is very special to me personally,” Ironwood coach Cecilia Aho said. “Jim was a great person and athlete. I came to Ironwood from Argentina in December 2003 and know the family very well. I had some good conversations with Jim before he passed. This is a great tribute to him. It turned out to be a beautiful day. We had perfect weather and the kids from all four schools were smiling and having fun.

“Jim was well known in the community, not only as a coach, but as a parent. He was a phenomenal runner and football player.”

LaBlonde played football for three years at Wisconsin-LaCrosse and was on the school’s track team for a year while earning his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 2003.

He was a middle school teacher and coach in the Howard-Suamico District near Green Bay, Wis., at the time of his passing.

“He always asked about what was going on in Ironwood and was a good leader,” Aho said. “He would never turn his back on you when you asked him a question. The kids loved him. I wish I would have had a chance to work with him.”

The Ironwood teams take a photo together, at top, after sweeping the meets. Below, from left, LaBlonde’s brother-in-law Dave Lundin, sister Dena Lundin and parents Marlene and Jim LaBlonde attend the meet. Senior Aubrey Smith topped a field of four Ironwood runners in the 1600-meter run in 5 minutes, 55.69 seconds, followed by freshman Iyla Lagalo (6:54.08) and sophomore Aubrey Balduc (7:21.16).

Smith also won the 300 hurdles at 52.43, more than six seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

“It was nice to have everyone here,” Smith said. “It’s nice to have a home meet, especially on a Saturday. I think it’s a fun meet. It’s nice to know everyone here. I think this gives me a little momentum going into our remaining meets.”

Sophomore Emma Wardon was also a double winner for the Red Devils, taking shot put (32-11) and discus (87-0).

Ironwood sophomore Logan Holm took the 110 hurdles (20.17) and 300s (48.05), and Hurley had a triple-winner in junior Jeremiah Wallis, who captured the 100 (12.0), 200 (24.52) and long jump (17-3).

Watersmeet junior Thomas Carson won the 400 (54.06), five days after setting the school record (52.31) while placing second in the Welker Invitational at Ashland, Wis. (52.31).

“I strained my hamstring in Ashland,” he said. “It was a little windy up by the big lake (Superior) and there were a lot of good runners up there. I’m probably about 80-90 (percent), but everything went okay. I just wanted to make sure I didn’t overdo it. This is a nice little meet, especially for a Saturday.”

Ontonagon sophomore Violet Amos took the 200 (28.26) and 400 (1:02.03) and was runner-up to Hurley senior Jaana Aukee on a lean (13.65) in the 100.

“I’ve been in the 27s in the 200, but I’m very happy with my time in the 400” Amos said. “This being a little smaller track was probably a factor because the curves are a little tighter. I prefer to run a 400-meter track, although I like the running surface and competition.

“It’s always fun to come here. Our track is getting resurfaced. I’m looking forward to running on it the next couple years.”

Ontonagon coach Brian Amos said he also enjoys going to Ironwood.

“Ironwood runs a nice meet, and we get a chance to see Hurley,” he added. “It’s always nice to run against somebody different.”

John VrancicJohn Vrancic has covered high school sports in the Upper Peninsula since joining the Escanaba Daily Press staff in 1985. He is known most prominently across the peninsula for his extensive coverage of cross country and track & field that frequently appears in newspapers from the Wisconsin border to Lake Huron. He received the James Trethewey Award for Distinguished Service in 2015 from the Upper Peninsula Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association.

PHOTOS (Top) Ribbons and medals are set out to be awarded during the first Jim LaBlonde Invitational at Ironwood. (Middle) The Ironwood teams take a photo together, at top, after sweeping the meets. Below, from left, LaBlonde’s brother-in-law Dave Lundin, sister Dena Lundin and parents Marlene and Jim LaBlonde attend the meet. (Photos provided by the Ironwood Red Devil Booster Club.)