Monroe St Mary 'Lions' Roar in Repeat

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

January 16, 2021

BATTLE CREEK – The Kestrel is the official nickname of Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central. 

But as sports were put on pause late this past fall, the volleyball team found another animal to represent it and get it through the break. 

“We definitely adopted some new mottos over the break,” senior middle hitter Abbie Costlow said. “We got a lion – our team represents a lion. And that’s really propelled us through this last run of the state playoffs. It’s really helped us and driven our focus.” 

The Kestrels were lion-like Saturday, claiming their second straight Division 3 volleyball title with a dominant 25-19, 25-16, 25-8 win against Schoolcraft. It’s the seventh title for the program, and for the second-straight year they capped it off with a win against Schoolcraft in a matchup of the division’s top two teams in the rankings. 

It also was the end of a dominant run this season for St. Mary, which won its final 23 sets and didn’t drop one throughout the postseason. 

While the 2019 Final was a five-set thriller, this edition was dominated by St. Mary throughout, as it charged out to a 6-0 lead in the first set and never looked back. The Kestrels trailed only once through the entire match, as Schoolcraft took a 2-1 lead in the third set. That was immediately wiped out, however. 

“As we talked pregame, it really didn’t matter what they were doing on their side; it mattered what we were doing on our 30-by-30 court,” St. Mary coach Karen O’Brien said. “It was important that we just came out strong for us.” 

The Kestrels’ two-headed monster of Costlow and Mikayla Haut led a dominant attack, as Haut had 17 kills and Costlow had 14. Each were above 35 percent on their attacks, and the team was at 32.1 percent overall. 

“For one, our passing and our defense was extremely good,” O’Brien said. “And then, with those two things, our setter has three options. We started off, in the beginning of the first set, I think Abbie had four or five kills in a row, and I don’t know if that caught them off guard a little bit, because normally we feed Mikayla at the beginning. Abbie got the first five swings, and I just think with our passing and our defense, and a lot of that has to do with Jaydin (Nowak) playing the back row, and Ava Kuehnlein and Mikayla in the back row, that they’re so used to each other and have such great chemistry. As long as we’re passing and playing defense, we can run anything that we want to. The defense on the other side just doesn’t know who it’s coming from.” 

Nowak led the defense with 23 digs, while Haut – a Miss Volleyball finalist who is headed to Fairfield University in Connecticut – added 12. The Kestrels’ two setters were also busy, as Kate Collingsworth had 28 assists, and Grace Lipford had 12. 

Kelby Goldschmeding led Schoolcraft with 15 digs, while Allie Goldschmeding had 12. Kayla Onken had 15 assists for the Eagles (37-4), and Maggie Morris finished with nine kills. 

“I feel like at moments we won the serve and serve-receive battle, and that was a focus, but we couldn’t control it for the whole match,” Schoolcraft coach Erin Onken said. “I think we stayed as aggressive as we could. I thought Allie and Maggie really stayed aggressive attack-wise today. Kelby made some great saves back row for us. All in all, we just got beat by a great team that had a great day.” 

Schoolcraft advanced to the final without playing a Semifinal, as Saginaw Valley Lutheran was forced to withdraw from the tournament earlier in the week. Both coaches agreed that getting to play Thursday was an advantage for the Kestrels, but Onken said it didn’t affect the outcome.  

“That was a disadvantage, for sure, but that’s not why we lost or why we played how we did today at all,” she said. “We should have been able to walk in here with the kids who started last year and played here last year, as many as we had starting on the floor today, we should have been able to come out with a little bit more steam. So, yeah, that stinks, but it’s not a factor for today.” 

Of course, both teams had the experience of 2019 to draw from, and it was something the St. Mary players also valued. 

“You never can really prepare to play in a gym this big under the lights,” Haut said. “Usually, it’s a lot louder, so that was definitely different than last year. But when you play a game in Battle Creek before, it definitely helps you.” 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Monroe St. Mary’s Mikayla Haut follows through on a swing during Saturday’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Schoolcraft’s Maggie Morris winds up at the net. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.)