Peformance: Ida's Taylor Wegener

November 14, 2019

Taylor Wegener
Ida senior – Volleyball

The Bluestreaks’ four-year middle and outside hitter had a career-high and state record book-qualifying 34 kills in Thursday’s 3-2 Division 2 District Final win over Carleton Airport, earning the MHSAA “Performance of the Week.” The previous weekend, Wegener became the 24th player in state history to go over 2,000 kills, and after Tuesday’s Regional Semifinal win over Flat Rock has 2,098 – good for 16th most in MHSAA history since the move to rally scoring in 2004-05.

The 5-foot-11 Wegener has 630 kills this season – averaging 5.5 per game – and is scoring on nearly 50 percent (.489 kill percentage) of her attacks. She also has a career-high 93 service aces this season and is up to 287 for her career, just three shy of making the record book in that category. She has added 260 career blocks and made the Division 2/Class B all-state second team the last two seasons. The Bluestreaks are 41-7-1 and will face Dearborn Divine Child in Thursday’s Regional Final at Airport with an opportunity to advance to the Quarterfinals for the first time since 2008.

Wegener’s historic abilities are not reserved for the fall. She will play her fourth season of varsity basketball this winter and is 35 points from 1,000 for her career and 314 from setting the school scoring record; she averaged 18.4 points per game as a junior. Wegener also brings championship experience to those teams from a third sport – she played only one season of high school softball, as a freshman in 2017, but helped that team to the Division 2 title including going 3-for-4 in the championship game win over Richmond. She said her favorite sport is always the one in season, but it will be volleyball fulltime at the next level. Wegener – who carries a 3.78 grade-point average – will continue in that sport and academically at Saginaw Valley State University, where she’d like to study nursing.

Coach Bree Russow said:Taylor brings so much joy and passion to the gym for all to see. That has really impacted how she has played over the past four years. Not only is she a fun player to coach, she is fun to watch. She loves the game and her teammates so much, she gives her all every time she steps on the court. Taylor is a great leader and has been team captain the last few years. Her teammates look up to her not only for her skill but as a teammate/friend/leader, which is so important – she wants everyone to have success, and her team comes first. I first started coaching Taylor in eighth grade during club season, and to see her growth has been truly amazing. She has worked so hard to get where she is today. She gets better every time she steps on that court, and she brings a little extra every day. Her teammates and younger athletes see that. No matter what she is playing – volleyball, basketball, and softball – she is there to battle. That says a lot, and others want to do the same.” 

Performance Point: “I’ve been on varsity since I was a freshman, and just realizing that this is my last year playing for the Ida community, (now that) it’s almost over it’s just eye-opening how grateful I’ve been to be a part of such an amazing community and have had so much support,” Wegener said. “I think that I’ve just been playing my heart out because I don’t want it to end yet. I know all good things come to an end, but hopefully our end isn’t coming that soon. We have a total of eight seniors, and I think just all of us realize that it’s our last time playing together and you’ve gotta make the most of it.”

2,000 and growing: “I can’t get a kill without a good pass and without a good set, so it’s really my teammates that do all the work to make me look good. … I’ve never been one to count. People will come up to me and ask how many kills, or (for basketball) how many points did you have? I just say I have no idea. Those sports are all team efforts. The competitor in me just wants to win. If it’s two kills versus 30 kills, and my teammates pick it up in those certain places, a win is a win at the end of the day for me. I think I’ve improved with confidence over the years, and that’s why I’ve gotten those kills and I’ve taken advantage of the times when I’ve needed to get a kill.”

Embracing the opportunity: “The last Regional was actually my cousin (playing), which is my assistant coach Ashley Begeman, so (to win this week) would be a huge thing for not only me personally, but my family. And looking at the banner, (for reaching) the final four, in the gym, it’s always been a goal of mine. As a little kid, when you go in there and you see those letters up on that banner, it’s like, I want to be up there someday.”

Power player: “I’ve always been stronger in my grade. In basketball, it’s ripping a ball from someone. With volleyball, it’s slamming the ball as hard as I can. It’s just the aggression in me that’s like, ‘I’m going to do what I have to do to win as strong and as hard as I can.’”

Bluestreak building: “As we’re more successful in the state run, you just see that people from our community have just come out and been so supportive. The gym was so loud (Tuesday) night, and it was just an emotional time because right after the game you could just feel the happiness in the gym. People I hadn’t seen in years had come to support Ida. It’s just really amazing; it’s going to hurt that I don’t have that next year. … I’ve had that experience in softball too. When we won the state softball championship, it was that same feeling that brings tears to my eyes because I’m so happy to not only be proud of my teammates, but proud of my community. That self-pride, they’re returning it right back to us. It’s just an amazing feeling you can’t describe.”

– Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Past honorees

Nov. 7: Carter Solomon, Plymouth cross country - Report
Oct. 31: 
Jameson Goorman, Muskegon Western Michigan Christian soccer - Report
Oct. 24:
Austin Plotkin, Brimley cross country
- Report
Oct. 17:
Jack Spamer, Brighton cross country - Report
Oct. 10:
Kaylee Maat, Hudsonville volleyball - Report
Oct. 3:
Emily Paupore, Negaunee cross country - Report
Sept. 26: 
Josh Mason, South Lyon soccer - Report
Sept. 19: Ariel Chang, Utica Eisenhower golf - Report
Sept. 12: Jordyn Shipps, DeWitt swimming - Report

PHOTOS: (Top) Ida's Taylor Wegener (6) rises for a kill attempt during a match at Carleton Airport. (Middle) Wegener also saves a ball from hitting the floor. (Photos courtesy of the Ida volleyball program.)

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.)