Talented Multiples Multiplying Success at Elk Rapids, Petoskey

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

March 4, 2022

Big North and Lake Michigan Conference girls basketball players have been suffering from double and triple vision the last couple of years.

It’s not a medical condition. There’s no need to see a doctor for treatment. Players, coaches, referees and announcers just need to focus on the numbers.

No more double vision is anticipated in the Lake Michigan Conference when Elk Rapids steps on the court next winter a third-straight league championship. But there will be triple vision in the Big North Conference though as Petoskey seeks a second-straight title. And, the double and triple vision may continue this spring on the soccer pitch.

The double vision caused by the Elks stems from numbers 4 and 5. The triple vision some suffer further north is the results of numbers 11, 20 and 23.

Twin seniors Monika and Mary Gregorski wore the 4 and 5, respectively, as Elk Rapids picked up its second-straight LMC championship this winter. The Big North champion, Petoskey, had junior triplets Grayson, Eva and Caroline sporting the 11, 20 and 23, respectively.

The soccer rosters this spring may make opponents believe they have vision problems.  The twins and the triplets helped their squads make strong showings in the league and postseason last spring.

At one point this basketball season the Gregorskis and the Guys were playing together on the same court as the Elks slipped past the Northmen 41-39 at home.

“It was kind of cool that when Mary and I were on the court at the same time and they (Caroline, Eva and Grayson) were all on the court at the same time, half of the players on the court were twins or triplets,” said Monika Gregorski, who was the Elks’ 3-point specialist. “It was two different families but it made up half of the teams.”

Elk Rapids basketballFans and opponents looking closely at the Elks on the court may be able to differentiate between the twins by their playing. Monika buried 24 3-point shots during the regular season. Mary is the defensive stalwart, earnings an all-conference honor last year with her tenacity.

“They are different players on the floor and different off the floor,” said Elks coach Mike Brown, who had the twins all four years on the varsity. “But they have their togetherness. 

“Every shooting drill they’re attached at the hip,” he continued. “They’re both such good two-way players, and they do everything whether it’s rebounding or steals.”

Elk Rapids’ season ended Wednesday night with a loss to Traverse City St. Francis in a Division 3 District Semifinal. The Elks finished 18-3. They were 16-2 last year, falling to powerhouse Glen Lake in the District Final.

Petoskey saw its championship season end Monday night with a loss to league rival Traverse City West. The Guy triplets, who moved from Ohio to Petoskey at the start of the 2020-21 school year, played a huge role in the Northmen’s 14-7 season.

Petoskey coach Bryan Shaw benefitted from the triplets’ move north last season, along with then-senior sister Gabriella.

“It is something to have a transfer or two, but four is a whole different story,” the seventh-year coach said. “Coaching the triplets has been fun.

“As close as they are, they are all their own individual,” he continued. “They have fit right in with teammates, and while coaching we don't really see them as triplets but try to maximize the skill each brings to the game.”

Caroline contributed eight points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.4 blocks per game this season. Grayson added 5.5 points and four rebounds, while Eva averaged nearly three points and more than two rebounds per game.

Elk Rapids basketball“All of them are competitive and work hard,” Shaw said of the Guy triplets. “Carol is more of a perimeter player, handles the ball well and shoots it well.

“Grayson is more of the swing-type player from the baseline or wing, but can also post up,” he continued. “Eva is steady. … She handles it when we need her to, defends well and hits open shots.”

Eva is turning her attention to soccer as she prepares for another season as a midfielder for the Northmen. Caroline and Grayson may not play soccer, perhaps choosing to focus on offseason basketball opportunities and conditioning.

The triplets don’t play a high school fall sport, and all list basketball as their favorite.  

“It’s a lot of fun because we have that bond and connection,” said Eva. “We have been playing together literally since birth. Like right when we picked up a basketball, we all wanted to play and pursue our dreams together.”

With the Guy triplets on the soccer pitch a year ago, the Northmen dropped a tough decision to TC West in their final regular-season game. A win would have given Petoskey the league title. The score was 0-0 at halftime.

“I have been fortunate to not only have had the opportunity to work with all the girls on the soccer field, but also in my economics courses,” said Zach Jonker, veteran Petoskey boys and girls soccer coach and teacher. “The leadership qualities they have developed in their athletic endeavors are also on display in the classroom.

“They each epitomize what it means to be a student-athlete,” Jonker continued. “Each of the sisters has a distinct positive personality, and collectively they have elevated both the culture of our program and the school climate.”

Petoskey basketballElk Rapids girls soccer and boys tennis coach Andrea Krakow, like Brown, also had the pleasure of coaching the twins’ older sisters, Megan and Molly. Megan is the current JV girls basketball coach.

Krakow said she takes the same approach with the twins as she does with any soccer player.

“As far as coaching twins, I have coached them as I would any other players — as individuals,” she said. “Soccer and doubles tennis are both team sports, so all players need to work together.”

“They each have their own personality and are different in several ways, thus I treated them and coached them as individuals.”

Regardless of sport, the twins and triplets believe having siblings on the team is an advantage as they know their teammates’ games inside and out. They all indicate a special joy from playing with their sisters.

“It is really fun playing with her (Monica) because we have, I want to say, is twin telepathy,” Mary Gregorski said. “We always know where each other are on the court.”

Grayson Guy believes it boosts team chemistry.

“I feel like a lot of troubles on teams is chemistry,” she said. “With the three of us going in, we automatically have so much chemistry. 

“We saw each other grow as players and as people,” she continued. “It is super nice to get on the court and see a familiar face.”

Caroline Guy points to personal and team growth over the past seasons coming from having triplets on the team.

“It definitely made us connect a lot more over the years – especially this last year,” she said. “Our connection together — and everyone around us on our team — has definitely grown. 

“Getting that closer relationship really helps us both inside and outside the sport.”

Elk Rapids and Petoskey are slated to meet on the Northmen’s soccer field April 7. The Elks won 2-0 at home last spring.

Tom 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 (1) From left, Grayson, Eva and Caroline Guy with Petoskey girls basketball coach Bryan Shaw. (2) From left, Monika Gregorski, Elks soccer and tennis coach Andrea Krakow, Megan and Mary Gregorski. (3) Monika and Mary chat with Elk Rapids basketball coach Mike Brown. (4) From left, Caroline, Eva and Grayson Guy exit the bus for a basketball game at Traverse City West. (Photos by Tom Spencer.)

Few in Number, Tecumseh Pursuing Sizable Success with Zajacs Setting Pace

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

December 5, 2023

TECUMSEH – First, the good news: Nearly everyone on the Tecumseh girls basketball team has aspirations to play college basketball – and several of them at a very high level. 

Southeast & BorderNow, the twist: There are only eight girls in the entire program. 

Tecumseh head coach Kristy Zajac, starting her seventh season, is unfazed by the lack of numbers. Tecumseh will field just a varsity team this season but should contend for a Southeastern Conference White championship and pursue a deep playoff run as well. 

“This is a great group of girls,” Zajac said. “At least six or seven of them want to play college basketball. The basketball IQ is so much higher than we have had in the past. We’ve never had a full team of basketball-first kids.” 

Zajac said that dynamic has changed practices and the approach on the court. 

“We do a lot more high-level skill stuff and high-level thinking,” she said. “We do more read-and-react stuff where they have to play on the fly, which makes us harder to scout. We want to try and give the kids a chance to use that basketball IQ and make opportunities for themselves on the floor so they can score without having to run a set play.” 

The list of college prospects starts with her daughter, 6-foot-2 junior Alli Zajac. She holds about 15 Division I offers, and the list seems to grow daily.  

She’s been receiving recruiting attention since before she played a game in high school. As a freshman, she was the Lenawee County Player of the Year and has been all-state both of her first two seasons. Last winter, she scored 433 points as Tecumseh went 20-5.  

Her sister, Addi Zajac, hasn’t played a varsity game yet but has received a lot of attention as well as a college prospect after several great years of travel ball. She’s 6-foot and a true center. 

“She wears a size 14 shoe,” Zajac said. “We are hoping next year she is 6-3 or 6-4. She has such a strong body; I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone that strong at her age. She can push people around.” 

The sisters are very different types of players. They also are extremely competitive, as witnessed when they play 1-on-1 at home. 

“It usually ends in a fistfight,” Zajac said. “They are both very competitive.” 

Kristy Zajac coaches her team, which finished 20-5 in 2022-23. The team is loaded with more talent than just the Zajac sisters. 

Sophomore Makayla Schlorf made 28 3-pointers last season, and sophomore Chloe Bollinger made 26. Junior Ashlyn Moorhead averaged just under double figures in scoring and averaged 3.7 assists a game last year. Junior Lauren Kilbarger also is back from last season and joined by newcomers Faith Wiedyk, a junior, sophomore Sophia Torres and freshman Amaria Brown.  

Maddie VanBlack is another travel ball veteran but is out this season due to tearing an ACL. 

Tecumseh athletic director Jon Zajac – Kristy’s husband – said it is disappointing Tecumseh won’t field a junior varsity team this year. He said kids playing travel ball in other sports, along with the youth of the current team, are factors. 

“It is frustrating,” he said. “Hopefully this is the only year for that.” 

Kristy (Maska) Zajac grew up near Tecumseh in Britton, played four years on the varsity and scored more than 1,800 career points under coach Bart Bartels, now an assistant on her staff. She played at Eastern Michigan University, where she was one of the top scorers in school history. Jon Zajac, played at EMU and professionally overseas.  

The entire family is crazy about basketball. In addition to Alli and Addi, son Ryder played four years at Tecumseh before heading off to college to play football, and the youngest in the family, Avery, is a budding star in her own right. 

“There were a few travel games this year where my team was short on numbers and Avery got to play with Addi and Alli,” Kristy Zajac said. “That was cool to see. She held her own. She won’t get to play with Alli in high school (Avery is in seventh grade), but she’ll get two years with Addi. I got to play with my sister, and I wouldn’t trade that time for anything.” 

Jon Zajac stops by practice now and then to coach as well. He and Kristy coach Avery’s travel team. 

“He is a great person to have as part of the program,” Kristy Zajac said of her husband. “Anytime I can get him to help with the post players and with the girls is great. He’s a huge help.” 

The family often schedules trips around basketball and is seemingly always pulled in multiple directions as the three girls compete at various levels. 

“It’s pretty much basketball all day, every day,” Zajac said. “It’s fun to see how the kids enjoy it and love the game.” 

Tecumseh, which has won a combined 39 games over the past two seasons, has loaded up its schedule, playing a collection of nonconference teams that made deep tournament runs and won conference championships last season. Tecumseh plays in the Icebreaker event at Ypsilanti Arbor Prep against Detroit Country Day on Saturday and also faces Temperance-Bedford (23-1 last season), reigning Division 3 runner-up Blissfield and Grand Blanc.  

Without a senior on the team and no JV squad, Tecumseh will play essentially this group for the next 50 or more games. It’s a two-year window with virtually the same team. 

“We’re doing what we can to win this year,” Zajac said. “We want this year to be super successful. We are just taking it one game at a time and going from there. We want to keep building and getting better every day, every game. Hopefully by the end of next year, we’ll be where we need to be.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Tecumseh’s Alli Zajac makes her move toward the lane last season against Adrian. (Middle) Kristy Zajac coaches her team, which finished 20-5 in 2022-23. (Photos by Deloris Clark-Osborne/Adrian Daily Telegram.)