Gladstone approved for Great Northern Conference return

ESCANABA — Gladstone and the Great Northern Conference are back together after a one-year separation.

Gladstone athletic director Andy Jacques said the Braves were formally accepted back into the GNC during a meeting of league ADs Wednesday in Escanaba. Gladstone will start GNC competition again at the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We are really excited about it,” Jacques said. “It will definitely benefit our kids. It’s great competition and we’re happy to be in a partnership with them again. I love working with the Great Northern Conference athletic directors. They were great to accept Gladstone in again.”

Gladstone had left the GNC in 2016 for the Mid-Peninsula Conference this year. Gladstone won the MPC football title outright this season. But the MPC is dissolving in football with Iron Mountain, Westwood, Gwinn, Ishpeming and Negaunee joining the West PAC starting next season.

As a result, Gladstone applied for a return to the GNC and approved on Wednesday. The GNC includes Escanaba, Marquette, Menominee and Kingsford.

Sault Ste. Marie High School competed in GNC football the past two seasons and last fall in volleyball, but the Blue Devils informed the league they will not be back for those two sports.

Jacques has been busy trying to fill the Braves schedule for next season.

He has eight games in place and is looking for a ninth date at home. Only three games are scheduled for home at this point.

Jacques said Gladstone will benefit from being in other GNC sports, too.

There are discussions to start league competition in baseball and softball.

For basketball, Jacques said Gladstone will continue to play the same schools since the MPC is trying to stay together in basketball and other sports.

“We are dedicated to the GNC now,” Jacques said. “That is our first priority. If we can play the other (MPC) schools in other sports we will. It’s exciting times for us. It will create great competition for our kids. It will be a lot of fun.”

Gladstone plays Kingsford in football on Week 4 next season.