Munising Neighbors Share In Successes

February 28, 2017

By Dennis Grall
Special for Second Half

MUNISING – It would be hard to believe there are many more accomplished neighboring homes than those of Marissa Immel and Frankie Mattson in Munising.

Between them, the Munising High School seniors are both 4.0 students, share their class’ top spot academically, and will graduate with a combined 41 varsity athletic letters, a staggering 21 by Immel.

Both serve on a variety of clubs, with Immel on the MHSAA Student Advisory Council that requires her to travel some six hours each way to Lansing once a month. And they hope to lead the Mustangs downstate together to finish this basketball season, with the first step a Class C District opener Wednesday against Ishpeming.

“We’ve been able to push each other through the years to be the best we can be,” said Immel. “We really try to manage our time the best we can. We plan things out ahead of time.

“Sports mean a lot to me. It is something my family values. School comes first, then sports. It teaches a lot of life lessons, and it is really fun to participate and learn new things.”

The connection began before they were born.

Their mothers, Bette (Jahn) Immel and Carrie (Hamilla) Mattson, played on rival teams during high school, at Manistique and Munising, respectively. Immel was the girls basketball coach for grades 3-6 and her husband Dale was coach for grades 7-8, with Frankie’s dad Matt their high school basketball coach.

Both girls topped the 1,000-point scoring mark this season, and the passes that put them into that club came from each other. Mattson, a center, is approaching 1,000 career rebounds. Immel is the team’s point guard.

The athletic success they have shared is incredible. Their basketball team finished the regular season 20-0 and ranked No. 1 in the media’s Upper Peninsula Class A-B-C poll. Both were part of two U.P. Finals tennis titles, Mattson at No. 1 singles and Immel at No. 2 doubles. That tennis success was difficult because Munising has just two courts in town and all the meets are on the road.

They also helped the Mustangs collect four volleyball District titles and three Regional track & field titles, with both earning all-state in the latter.

Both girls played five varsity sports each year, Immel going one-up in letters by running cross country – as a freshman in 2013 she was individual runner-up at the U.P. Division 3 Final as Munising won the team title. Both girls also play golf.

With an enrollment of just more than 200 students, Munising allows athletes to play two sports in the same season to increase participation – but they must pick a sport as their priority for when both teams have events on the same day.

Mattson said the neighbors “hang out all the time. We go to open gyms; we lift weights together. I see Marissa as a support system, and that helps us get through everything we do.”

They go to meetings together – both are in Key Club and student council (Mattson is vice-president, Immel is treasurer) – and Immel is president of the school’s National Honor Society chapter while Mattson is secretary. Both have earned all-state recognition from the Basketball Coaches Association of Michigan and both serve on the Alger Regional Community Foundation youth advisory council.

“We have meetings for our clubs, we practice every day. You’re only in high school once, so you might as well do what you can,” said Mattson.

Basketball is the favorite sport for both girls. “We have played together for so long (since first grade) that I know what she is thinking, and the same thing with her,” said Mattson. “It has helped our bond. I put all my trust in Marissa to run plays. It is so awesome that I can depend on her.”

The key to their basketball success, said Immel, is “our whole team came together and we support each other. We try to get everyone involved. Our whole team participates in our success.”

Mattson knew the pass from Immel set up her 1,000th point, but did not realize her pass to Immel for 1,000 did it until the crowd began celebrating. “It was awesome,” she said.

For point guards, like Immel, reaching 1,000 points does not happen as often because that position requires more passing than shooting. “We move it around a lot,” said Mattson. “She’s very gracious with her passes, and she shoots when she’s open.

“The key to basketball is we have all matured and we’re seniors. We’re here to show everyone what we have been working for the last couple of years.”

Having her father as head coach helps make all the success more special. “It is honestly awesome, knowing he is my support system at home and on the court,” she said.

They will bring the game home and talk about team and individual aspects and look at film together. “There is no harm talking about good things or bad things. There is no tension between us,” Mattson said.

Immel said “it is crazy to think that we’re almost done with all these sports. It will be different without having that much going on in our lives.”

Immel plans to join her sister Katie at Michigan State University and possibly study speech pathology. Mattson plans to attend either Michigan Tech or Central Michigan for an educational degree.

Another classmate, Bailey Downs, also has earned 20 varsity athletic letters.

Denny Grall retired in 2012 after 39 years at the Escanaba Daily Press and four at the Green Bay Press-Gazette, plus 15 months for WLST radio in Escanaba; he served as the Daily Press sports editor from 1970-80 and again from 1984-2012, and served as interim sports editor during most of the 2016-17 school year. Grall was inducted into the Upper Peninsula Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and serves as its executive secretary. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for the Upper Peninsula.

PHOTOS: (Top) Munising's Frankie Mattson (left) and Marissa Immel stand with posters celebrating their 1,000th career points scored this season. (Middle) Mattson works the post during a 2015-16 game against Newberry. (Below) Immel puts a shot up over the outstretched hands of a Rapid River defender. (Top photo courtesy of the Immel family, action photos by the Marquette Mining Journal.)

JoBurg 3-Sport Great Capping Career Filled with All-State Honors, Team Trophies

By Tom Spencer
Special for

April 5, 2024

It won’t be hard for Jayden Marlatt to remember opening day on the softball field from any of her four years at Johannesburg-Lewiston.

Northern Lower PeninsulaAs a freshman, she missed the opener due to needing to quarantine. Her sophomore and junior years started on the road because the Cardinals’ field was under construction.  

This season the Cardinals will open up — weather permitting — on their brand-new field, hosting Mio on Monday, April 8.  Marlatt is slated to be the starting pitcher again and add to her school record collection.

While Johannesburg-Lewiston is looking forward to playing on the new diamond, Marlatt and her teammates have high hopes of finishing the season almost 200 miles south. They’re looking to get back to Michigan State University – the site of the Division 4 Semifinals and Final.

The Cards have had their sites on that goal since they fell 4-2 to Mendon in last year’s Semifinal at Secchia Stadium. The loss ended a 30-4-1 campaign that saw the Cardinals play every game on the road for a second consecutive year, but come up only one victory short of a first championship game appearance.

The trip to East Lansing also came after the Cards won the program’s first District title since 2008 and advanced to the Semifinals for the first time since 1981.

“It has been a long two seasons on the road,” said eighth-year head coach Kim Marlatt, noting the team utilized a Little League field for practices during the stretch. “They’ve been putting in a lot of work in the offseason, so it is excited to get going.”

Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. The new field isn’t the only new things this spring. The Cardinals will have a junior varsity team for the first time during the Marlatt’s tenure. The JV squad is coached by Ryan Marlatt, who has been serving the program the past eight years as assistant coach. He also has been the head girls basketball coach at JoBurg the past two seasons.

The Marlatt coaches are the proud parents of Jayden, who continues to garner recognition as perhaps the greatest athlete in Johannesburg-Lewiston’s history. 

The three-sport star had a huge hand in all that JoBurg accomplished last season leading the team in batting average (.670), home runs (13) and runs batted in (61). As the team’s ace pitcher, she collected 249 strikeouts and compiled a 1.32 ERA.

“Jayden has put in the hard work,” Kim pointed out.  “She is a very humble athlete. ‘She doesn’t like to talk about herself. She likes to compete, and she likes to be on the top of her game for her teammates.”

Jayden has been named all-conference and all-state in softball, basketball and volleyball nearly every season over her four years at JoBurg. She’s led her teams to Ski Valley Conference, District and Regional titles along the way.

She’s also been named Player of the Year by multiple publications. And she’s a front runner to be voted the Most Valuable Player of the Ski Valley Conference in softball. Earlier this year, league coaches voted her the MVP for both basketball and volleyball.  

“The Ski Valley never used to vote on an MVP,” Ryan Marlatt said. “Hopefully she can add the triple crown and get softball this year.”

Jayden Marlatt, who has played all three sports all four years, acknowledged softball is perhaps her most treasured, and she’ll continue in that sport at Ferris State. Her career total of more than 500 strikeouts, and her 14 home runs last season, are both JoBurg school records. "I like them all but probably softball,” she confirmed when asked to name her favorite sport.

She averaged 12 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and four steals per game this winter helping the Cards basketball team to a conference runner-up finish. She was key to JoBurg's ability to put a 12-game winning streak together, and she topped the 1,000-point career mark along the way.

Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season.Her outstanding senior year on the basketball court and this spring’s possibilities nearly vanished as the volleyball season ended.

She suffered what looked to be a serious lower-leg injury in the final game of the JoBurg volleyball season. “She finished in the emergency room,” Kim Marlatt said.  

Diagnosed a high ankle sprain, it was an aggravation to an injury from her junior year in basketball. She wasn’t quite at 100 percent on the basketball court this season until the holiday break. She’s starting the softball season healthy, though.

Before the injury, Jayden led the Cards to their third volleyball conference championship over the last four years. After becoming JoBurg's all-time kills leader during her junior season, and with many of her teammates from her first three seasons graduating, Jayden had to fill a variety of roles while anchoring the offense from her outside hitter spot.

She ended up leading the team in both kills with 421 and digs, with 431, in her final season on the volleyball court. And she is listed among MHSAA’s all-time leaders in kills for a single match and career.

It’s more than Marlatt’s stats that stand out for Kristine Peppin, the school’s volleyball coach the past 15 years.

“It is not about the size of the school or the size of the player, it’s the heart that they have inside,” she proclaimed. “This girl would be a successful player on whatever team she was on. 

“Yes we’re a small school, small town,” she continued. “That kind of leadership and heart and drive to be the best is what’s given her that success.”

Marlatt’s work ethic is second to none, Peppin noted. She never saw Jayden give less than a “1,000” percent in practice or games in her career. 

Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt.“She’s a super hard worker and extremely modest for the kind of skill she possesses and the success she’s had,” Peppin said. “Her teammates think it’s amazing to be on her team.”

Marlatt’s volleyball skills caught the eye of at least one of her conference opponents’ coaches back in junior high. Ron Stremlow was performing one of his many coaching duties for Fife Lake Forest Area when he first saw Jayden on the volleyball court.

“I could tell then this girl was somebody special,” said Stremlow, who became one of the winningest coaches in state volleyball history with the Warriors. “When she got in high school, it just took off.

“She puts the time into it, and she works hard,” Stremlow continued. “Kids like that get what they deserve – they work for it.”

Stremlow, now retired, also acknowledged he’s enjoyed being able to watch the hard-throwing Marlatt on the softball field the last couple of seasons as Forest Area hosted the Cardinals consecutively due to JoBurg’s lack of a home field.

It’s something he’ll have to travel to do this year though, as JoBurg is scheduled to host the Warriors on April 15.

The Cardinals also will host a Regional on their new field June 8. The winners of District play at Rogers City, Harbor Springs, St. Ignace and Gaylord St. Mary will participate.

To play in the Regional, the Cards will have to emerge from the Rogers City District featuring the host Hurons, Atlanta, Hillman, Onaway, and Posen.

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Johannesburg-Lewiston’s Jayden Marlatt drives a pitch during softball season. (2) Cardinals’ 1,000-point scorer Marlatt sets up for a free throw attempt. (3) Also a standout in the fall, Marlatt prepares to connect during volleyball season. (4) Marlatt celebrates a trophy win during last season’s Semifinals softball run with parents (and coaches) Kim and Ryan Marlatt. (Action shots by Dylan Jespersen/Petoskey News-Review; family photo by Breya Domke.)