Leland Reloads, Returns to Final Week

November 13, 2016

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

LELAND – It’s championship week in the MHSAA volleyball tournament – and defending Class D champion Leland is hoping it’s another November to remember.

Leland captured its sixth consecutive Regional on Thursday with a hard-fought 25-15, 25-23, 25-22 triumph over Fife Lake Forest Area. The Comets now face Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart in a Quarterfinal on Tuesday at Buckley. A win would advance Leland to the Final Four at Kellogg Arena in Battle Creek for the fourth year in a row, and it would also be the 1,000th career victory for coach Laurie Glass.

The Comets are enjoying success with a rebuilt lineup in 2016. Leland lost three senior starters off last November’s title team, including all-staters Maddie Trumbull and Eva Grobbel, who led the squad in kills and blocks. Then, during the summer, the Comets lost returning letterwinner Rachel Bechtel to a knee injury.

Glass adjusted, aided by a strong sophomore class that’s put Leland (41-10-4) in the title hunt again. Five sophomores played considerable minutes Thursday, including two, Allie Martin and Ella Siddall, who were starters a year ago.

With all that youth, Glass wondered prior to the season about chemistry, and how the underclassmen would “mesh” with the six seniors. Turns out, she had nothing to worry about.

“This team has been all in since day one,” she said.

The Regional title was proof. It took a team effort to beat Forest Area.

“I think the strength of this team is the bond, the relationships we have with each other,” Siddall said afterwards. “We’ve worked so hard together – from June until now – to get better. That’s been our goal, and I think we’ve accomplished it. I couldn’t be prouder of this team.”

Glass, who’s won MHSAA Finals championships as a player and coach at Leland, was feeling a deep sense of pride as she watched her players receive their medals Thursday night.

“It never gets old,” she said. “I’m just so thankful that this group, which has worked super hard, had a chance to feel what it’s like to get that medal. They earned it, they deserved it. They put in the time and energy, mentally and physically, to get it done. I don’t think you could want more as a coach then to watch the kids reap the benefits of their hard work.”

The win over Forest Area did not come easy. Martin, based on her experience last season, expected as much.

“The farther you get in the playoffs, the more you have to battle because the better the teams get,” she said. “They’re (Forest Area) a very good team. They were digging everything. It was fun to play competition like that.”

Glass told her Comets, ranked No. 3 in the coaches’ poll, that they should always enjoy playing a quality foe.

“I said, ‘Isn’t it much more fun to play a game that’s on the line then to play in a blowout that doesn’t feel great when you’re done?’” she said. “When it’s tight we should be going, ‘Oh my gosh, this is the best thing ever.’ I thought we played like that tonight. We embraced it.

“I thought it was going to be exactly what it was,” she added. “I thought they were going to dig a ton of balls. I thought they were going to bring it at us hard. I thought we were going to have to serve pretty well to keep them out of their offense. And I thought we were going to have to dig.”

And that’s what happened in a match that featured several lengthy volleys.

“They showed intensity, they showed perseverance,” senior libero Julie Bardenhagen said. “We just had to stick to what we do best on our side (of the net).”

Martin, Siddall, Bardenhagen and junior Rowan Wilson gained valuable experience a year ago, and they’ve been leading the charge this season. Statistically, Martin leads in kills (534) and aces (114) and is second in digs (479). Siddall is tops in assists (1,100), Bardenhagen in digs (514). Wilson is second in kills (373) and third in digs (475).

But there’s so much more, too. On Thursday, senior Kira Metcalf (six kills), and sophomores Margie Stowe (12 digs, two aces), Maddy Grosvenor (five kills, one ace) and Hanna Elwell (nine kills) displayed their capabilities.

Glass is now a win away from joining an exclusive group of coaches. Only 10 other Michigan high school volleyball coaches have achieved 1,000 or more career wins.

Glass said when she looks back it’s the players, not the wins, that stand out.

“I remember the girls,” she said, “and the things they went through, the challenges they overcame, the mental things they had to surpass in order to be their better self. I’ve watched the transformation of these girls from the middle school right on through our program – under guidance of great people below me. It’s been a great experience. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, doing anything else.”

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. 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) Leland setter Ella Siddall prepares to pass to a teammate approaching the net. (Middle) Libero Julie Bardenhagen receives during a match this season. (Photos by Sarah Grosvenor.)

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

By Tom Spencer
Special for MHSAA.com

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.)