Team of the Month: Gladwin Volleyball

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

November 15, 2022

Tony Wetmore hadn’t arrived yet the last time Gladwin’s varsity volleyball team won a Jack Pine Conference championship. But he had a trustworthy witness able to give a first-hand account of what his Flying G’s have been chasing over the last 40+ years.

Wetmore’s mother and junior varsity coach Jane Wetmore, then Jane Huber – played on that last league championship volleyball team. She also was the one who got her son into coaching; he started his Gladwin tenure as the freshman volleyball coach teaching a sport he admittedly didn’t know much about himself.

But Mom clearly was onto something.

Less than a decade later, Wetmore has just finished up his sixth season as Gladwin’s varsity coach – and his team has finished its first league championship season since 1978, earning the MHSAA/Applebee’s “Team of the Month” honor for October.

Gladwin has been hovering in contention much of the last decade, but this team had all the ingredients to end the drought. Start with senior outside hitter Erin Breault and senior setter Delaney Reynolds – Breault broke the school’s single-season and career kills records this season, and Reynolds broke the same records for assists. Additionally, Breault led the JPC in kills, and junior middle Lizzie Haines led the league in hitting percentage.

But that high-caliber talent also was surrounded by several contributors who helped Gladwin push past longtime nemesis Beaverton and into the top spot.

“I felt like the whole season I could split the team in half, and one team could take first in the conference and the other team could take like fourth. I just felt like we were that deep where we were good and we could practice at a pretty high level, which was really cool,” Wetmore said.

“It’s obviously linked together, the assist record breaker and the kill record breaker on the same team,” he added. “And I think the thing that really pushed us over the edge this year is we had so many different attackers that were really, really good. My outside hitter Erin broke the record, she led the league in kills. My middle hitter led the league in hitting percentage. Both of those are reflective of our ability to get the ball to our attackers, which is the setter’s main job – but our back row played really well also all season, so a super-big team effort for all of them.”

The Flying G’s were able to win the Jack Pine in large part because they became the first league opponent since 2018 to defeat annual power Beaverton – Gladwin swept the pair of matches against its rival, and those remain Beaverton’s only league defeats over the last five seasons. 

The Flying G’s had been building toward this. They won their District in 2018, and then finished second in the JPC in 2019. The team was only .500 in 2020, but came back to finish 29-5 last season and 29-10 this fall.

Wetmore brought Breault, Reynolds and senior libero Delaney Conley up to varsity as sophomores that 2020 season. Breault, Reynolds and Haines earned all-region honors this season, and Wetmore was named his region’s Coach of the Year by the Michigan Interscholastic Volleyball Coaches Association. (Conley, a standout softball player, has signed to continue playing that sport at Saginaw Valley State.)

More quickly than hoped, of course, Gladwin made its season-ending exit in District play again. But the Flying G’s don’t plan on the prior good times coming to an end.

True, the seniors who will graduate are part of a class that’s been long-anticipated across all sports – another example this fall has been the football team, 12-0 and playing in a Division 5 Semifinal on Saturday.

Wetmore expects his volleyball seniors’ impact to last as younger players who watched them succeed this fall take their turns on the court with a larger idea of what’s possible.

“(It’s) just getting over the hump. Talk about our goals – every year trying to win the conference championship but we can’t get there. Every year since 2018, trying to beat Beaverton but we can’t do it. Districts, we’d won every once in a while … we won in 2011, so from 2011-15 we couldn’t get over it, but in (20)16 we got a District and then we got the next two,” Wetmore said. “When you break that barrier, it makes it easier to realize you can do things.”

Past Teams of the Month, 2022-23

September: Negaunee girls tennis - Report

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.)