After Record Finish, Onsted Off To Fast Start

October 19, 2020

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

ONSTED – Last season the Onsted volleyball team had about as impressive a season as it could. 

The Wildcats started by not losing until early October – a 28-match win streak – and finished with a school-record 50 victories. 

What are they doing for an encore? 

How about a 24-2 start this fall, a tremendous showing at a big quad in Bronson and they are on the verge of back-to-back Lenawee County Athletic Association titles. 

“We’ve played well at times,” Onsted coach Rhonda Hubbard said. “Everyone is making contributions to the team. We’re doing well in some areas. We're attacking the serve and we are doing the things we need to do, and we are winning.” 

Still, Hubbard is never completely satisfied. She’s hoping for more from a team that returns six key players from last year’s 10th-ranked, record-breaking club that lost in the Division 2 District Semifinals to Parma Western.  

Hubbard doesn’t want to see such an early exit this time around. 

“We can’t just waltz in and let the same thing happen to us this time,” she said. “Yeah, we rolled last year but I know what we are capable of. We have to perform, and we have to be more consistent.” 

There was no long win streak to start the season as Onsted lost to Manchester on Sept. 11, the first day they played an official match. Since a loss to Erie Mason at Mason the following day, however, they have won 18 straight. 

“We are 21-2, but I don’t think we should have lost to Manchester,” Hubbard said. “We should have had that one.  

“We have to start bringing it in practice more often. We aren’t consistent. I can sometimes be unhappy with how we practice. That’s how we are going to improve.” 

Mya Hiram and Kayla Ross are the senior co-captains. Hiram was third-team all-state in volleyball last year and followed that up with an all-state season in basketball. She’s bound for a college basketball career – she's committed to Ferris State University – but not before she leaves her mark on Onsted’s volleyball team. 

She’s getting close to the career kills record, and she and Ross are Nos. 2-3 on the Wildcats’ career digs list. 

The team’s biggest day came at Bronson when the Wildcats beat the host school, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian and Niles. They also beat Homer and Stockbridge earlier in the season and have collected wins over state-ranked Lenawee Christian and traditional LCAA championship contender Ida. Onsted also has a nonleague win over Adrian Madison, who has run its Tri-County Conference winning streak into the 30s. The Wildcats are likely to face the Trojans again in the upcoming county tournament. 

Ross and Izzy Kisor both are serving at a 93.8-percent clip, while Hiram has 39 aces, Kate Gorney 21 and Kennedy Ross 20.  

In attacking, Hiram has compiled 246 kills, an average of 3.56 per match. Hiram also has 208 digs, which is just ahead of Kayla Ross, who has 200. Kamryn Ross leads the team in assists, at 8.3 per match. Ruby Foster has been “block city,” Hubbard said, and added that Kayla Ross, Kisor, Kennedy Ross and Hiram lead the team in service points. 

Hubbard is an Adrian graduate who teaches at Onsted. She’s attended Eastern Michigan University on a track scholarship. She won the 2019 county Coach of the Year award after the team broke the previous school records of wins, 46 from 2012.  

Hubbard said the fewer matches this season is affecting the slow development of the team. She did say there is still time remaining for the Wildcats to piece together a stronger ending to the season than last year.  

“We are down 33 to 35 sets than last year at this time,” she said. “Teams don’t want to play three out of five. They want to play two of three, which I don’t think a varsity team should be doing, at least on the weekends. Our dates are all full; we just haven’t played as much.”  

Doug 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.

PHOTO: Onsted’s Mya Hiram unloads over the net for a spike during a past season. (Photo by Dolores Clark-Osborne.)

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.)