BY DAN STICKRADT
PINCKNEY — Every time that Paxton Titus steps into the discus or shot put ring, he’s proud to represent his high school.
Titus attends tiny Pinckney Livingston Christian, a 47-student high school that opened up in the mid-1990s and only joined the Michigan High School Athletic Association less than a decade ago.
Titus situation is a little bit different than most small-school track and field programs: He’s the only one on the roster, literally.
“That’s okay,” said Titus. “At least I’ve started something here. I hope to see it grow.”
Titus attended Class A Novi Detroit Catholic Central as a freshman and sophomore, but wasn’t even close to the varsity ranks. He threw the shot put around 35 feet and discus around 110 feet as a sophomore.
He came to Livingston Christian this season because his seventh-grade brother, Carver, attends the school, which has been housed in multiple locations over the years. Titus wanted to attend the same school with his younger sibling.
There was only one problem: No track team and just a few sports to choose from at the current time.
“I’m not tall at all, so basketball is out of the question,” said Titus, who checks in at 5-foot-10 and 250 pounds. “I’m just big and strong. I love to throw. There are a couple of golfers at the school, but it’s not really formal. I tried football when I was younger, but it wasn’t for me. I love to throw the shot put and discus. That’s my sport.”
Titus became the first regional champion in any sport on May 21, as he won Division 4 regional titles at Webberville in both the sot put (50-3) and discus (160-8). He has a career-best of 51-2.5 in the shot put set in mid-May and is re-setting his school records frequently. His regional discus effort was a career-best as well.
“There’s one guy (in Division 4) that has gone farther than me in the shot pout by about a foot, but I have the best discus throw,” said Titus, who is eyeing at least All-State in both events. “I have shot at both of them. I don’t think anyone has ever won a state title at my school (in any sport).”
True, Livingston Christian has never even made a long run or had an individual state qualifier or state champ in any sport since joining the MHSAA.
Until Paxton Titus’ arrival.
The school currently only sponsors boys basketball, girls basketball, girls volleyball, boys golf and now track and field.
“I hope that we have some kids come out next year and try to build a program,” said Titus. “I heard a few years ago a couple of kids tried to start a track program, but it never really went anywhere.”
As a one-man show, host schools have welcomed Titus into invitationals, even without male teammates or a girls team to accompany him.
“I think the events we have taken Paxton to have been great. Even if they are relay events, they have still let him compete,” said his father and coach, Lane Titus. “We have had him throw against some great competition this season, which has helped a great deal. This has been a great experience for him.”
Towards the end of his sophomore school year, Lane Titus got to know Walled Lake Central head coach Nebojsa Stojkovic and Ann Arbor Skyline throws coach Steve Stein. He took his son to track and field camps and clinics at those two schools and has allowed Paxton Titus to train with those coaches as well through private lessons.
It has more than paid off.
Titus will attend one more invitational this season before heading to the Lower Peninsula Division 4 state finals June 4 at Grand Rapids Houseman Field.
“I am going to try to win both,” said Titus. “I have come a long ways since last season“I never really dreamed a year ago to be where I’m at right now. I want to try to add a few more feet in both events. I know I can do it.”
Titus said he is being rewarded by his grandfather, Jim Branscum, later this summer. Branscum is taking Paxton Titus to Rio for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games, in particular the shot put and discus championships.
“He’s paying for the whole thing,” said Titus. “I can’t wait. Hopefully, I’lI be able to learn a lot more, see something great. But it will be incredible regardless. Just going to the event will be something I will always remember.”