Performance: Bronson's Kiera Lasky

September 21, 2018

Kiera Lasky
Bronson senior – Volleyball

The Vikings’ three-year starting libero has been part of three Class C championships and has her team pointing toward another run. Lasky had 16 digs, an ace and 12 passes in serve receive without an error as Division 3 No. 2 Bronson downed Division 1 No. 6 Battle Creek Lakeview to win the final of last weekend’s Portage Northern Invitational – earning Lasky the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Lasky is one of 10 finalists for this season’s statewide Miss Volleyball Award after earning all-state as a junior and sophomore and all-region as a freshman. Playing libero, she has 293 digs, 56 aces and 33 assists this season and has passed the ball 302 times in serve receive with only 19 errors. During her career, Bronson is 194-31-11 including 27-3 this fall. She set her school record for career digs as a junior, and her total now stands at 2,488. The Vikings beat Lakeview in three games at Portage after sweeping Wayland, Otsego and Stevensville Lakeshore. For the day, Lasky finished with 70 digs, 10 aces and seven assists.

A three-sport athlete as a freshman and sophomore, Lasky also is an all-league basketball player who has helped that team to multiple District titles. She also played softball her first two years of high school and is considering running track next spring. Lasky will sign this fall to continue her volleyball career at Davenport University, and she carries a 3.8 grade-point average. She’s worked on her family’s flower farm since the start of elementary school, and she’s interested in studying business management and marketing and starting her own business down the road.

Coach Jean LaClair said:Kiera is a workhorse, both in sports and in life. This shows not only in academics, but in her successes both on and off the court. Anyone would tell you that she is a tremendous person, who goes about her business, not arguing calls, not complaining about anything –   just going out and getting the job done. She has the ability to read the game very well, always putting herself in the best position to make the play. She makes what most would consider a spectacular dig look easy because she puts herself in the right position. She is willing to cover more of the court when a teammate is struggling, and has the confidence in her game to do this. Kiera has been the libero on three state championship teams – she runs the back row, and has since her freshman season. Kiera will be missed when she moves on to play in college, but she is doing a great job training our younger players on the work ethic and attitudes needed to keep this program moving forward.”

Performance Point: “Just to be able to play a Class A team and perform well against them is just a win in itself,” Lasky said of the Lakeview match. “We just played really, really well, and we were smart, and it was just exciting to see because we’re not to our full potential yet and it was really cool to see how well we could play when it’s all put together. … Everything we do revolves around our block. So our blockers, our front row, played extremely well. Our middle senior Ashton (Wronikowski) really took control up there and made sure she was closing the block, which makes it a lot easier on the back row because the block takes away a certain part of the court. We could all get in our positions and just dig the ball and do what we’re supposed to do. And we have a lot of hustle plays, and the effort was definitely there. So we just did our job and dug the ball.”

In the running: “I honestly didn’t think I was going to be on (the Miss Volleyball finalist list), so when I found out I was excited. I was like, ‘Oh man, this is an honor.’ But in all honesty, it’s not just my award, it’s the team award because I’d never be able to be where I am without our team. I wouldn’t be half the player I am today without my team and without my coach. At Bronson, we’re all about team chemistry and 100-100 – going 100 percent 100 percent of the time. We know what we’re supposed to do, when we’re supposed to do it, and we hold each other accountable.”

Back row driver: “When I was younger, I was dead set that I was going to be an outside (hitter). I guess my growth just got stunted, so I ended up 5-5, and that’s where I got put. … Being a libero, you don’t get all of the limelight, you don’t get all of the fame. But I think it’s extremely important. It’s kinda like being a quarterback on the football field. You’re telling people what to do, where to go. They just look to you when they don’t know. Especially on my team, I take a leadership role, and so I find it extremely important where other people might not. It’s a role, that if there wasn’t one, I don’t think a team would be as successful.”

Play like a champion: “What I take away most from (winning three titles) is just from year to year, as I’ve gotten older, we tend to do a lot of the same things. We have these traditions before every game. We go, we’ll stretch, we’ll sit in a circle, we’ll discuss the scouting reports because we do scouting reports whenever we watch film – so we watch film about every single team that we play. That’s a big part about why we’ve won, because we know our opponents – we almost know what they’re going to do before they do it. We know them because Coach’s husband Duane goes and he scouts every single team for Districts and Regionals, so we’re thankful to have him around and for doing things that other teams don’t really get the opportunity to do. That’s a big part, and just taking away from the state championships, people kinda look at you in a different way. They’re like, ‘Oh man, they’re state champs.’ So you’ve really just got to set the tone and be the example, like at school; people look up to you. You always try to do the right thing. Coach always says, if there’s a piece of paper in the hallway, bend down and pick it up. Show people what they’re supposed to do.”

One big Bronson family: “I’m kinda related to half of the town. Last year my cousin Kiana (Mayer) was the setter. My sister Adyson (Lasky), who was a captain, she played outside and she was a really big role on our team. My younger sister Meagan, she’s actually the setter now on this team. The right side is also my cousin, Jolie (Smoker). There’s another DS (defensive specialist) on the team, Scyler (Cary), she’s my cousin too. (Cousin Alanna Mayer also is a returning hitter.) So there’s been a lot of relatives on the same team. It was a little frustrating sometimes, because there were three of us that were sisters and we’d kinda get in little arguments. But it would be over and done with – (and) it’s been a lot of fun making memories. My other two cousins, Kylei Ratkowski played on the 2009 state championship team and Alexa (Ratkowski) who sets at Trine, she was the setter my freshman year. So there’s been a lot of us who went through the program, and there’s more coming up.”

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2018-19 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Past 2018-19 honorees

September 13: Judy Rector, Hanover-Horton cross country - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Bronson's Kiera Lasky digs during Saturday's match against Wayland at the Portage Northern Invitational. (Middle) Lasky serves during last season's Class C championship match win over Laingsburg. (Top photo courtesy of the Sturgis Journal.)

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.)