Let’s face it: Track and field isn’t Livingston County’s strongest sport.
Not by a long shot.
The only team state championships won by county teams were provided by Fowlerville’s boys, way back in the 1944 and 1965 Class C meets. Those will remain the only titles for at least another year, as no county team came remotely close to challenging for a state championship Saturday.
That having been said, what took place Tuesday and Saturday of last week made it arguably the greatest week of track and field in Livingston County history.
Four county records were broken, two in the Larry Steeb Memorial Meet of Champions last Tuesday in Dexter and two in the state Division 1 meet Saturday at East Kentwood. In the boys’ Division 1 3,200-meter run, the county record barely survived a two-man onslaught.
And then there’s Livingston Christian senior Paxton Titus, who swept the state Division 4 throwing events. Livingston Christian is technically on the northern edge of Washtenaw County in Whitmore Lake, at least temporarily, but the school has been based in Livingston County in the past and Titus is a Howell resident.
Here’s why last week was so special in the history of Livingston County track and field:
800 relay record broken
Pinckney was the only county school with an 800-meter relay record below 1:30. The Pirates lowered the county mark a smidge at the Steeb Memorial.
Connor Showich, Nick Cain, Connor Wolschleger and Alex Wasyl took second in the meet in 1:29.27. The former mark of 1:29.45 was set in 2002.
Pole vault record falls
Four days before the state meet, Hartland junior Ellie Zimmerman set a personal best by 12 inches when she soared 11 feet, 3 inches to place third in Steeb Memorial.
The jump broke the school record of 11-1 set by Ashley Esparza in 2007. The Hartland record also happened to be the county mark, as the next-highest by a vaulter from any other county school is 10-7.
3,200 record shattered
In the first race of the state Division 1 meet, Pinckney’s girls obliterated the county record in the 3,200 relay. The team of sophomore Erika Rapp, junior Allie Hartstang, senior Isabella Garcia and freshman Mia Garcia took fourth with a time of 9:15.28.
It was 13.64 seconds faster than the school record the quartet set to win regionals and eclipsed the county record of 9:24.34 set by Brighton’s Ellory Green, Brandi Corkins, Amanda Halonen and Amanda Curtis when they took third in the state on May 30, 2009.
400 record lowered
Hartland senior Michelle Moraitis surprised herself by posting a time of 57.64 seconds in the 400 at the Division 1 finals. Her previous best was 58.40.
She ran in the second-fastest heat, but said that was a mental advantage because the leaders in the fast heat pulled away, whereas she had company up front in her heat.
As was the case with Zimmermann, the school record she broke also happened to be the county mark. Hartland’s Amber Shelters ran 57.83 to take sixth in the Division 1 meet at Rockford on June 4, 2005.
3,200 record threatened by duo
Ian McGinn of Hartland nearly had his county record in the 3,200 bumped to No. 3 on the all-time list by Howell senior David Mitter and Pinckney senior Ryan Talbott.
Mitter was fourth in a school-record 9:09.96 and Talbott was on his heels with a fifth-place school-record performance of 9:10.64.
McGinn’s record barely survived the assault in a blistering race. McGinn ran 9:09.52 to take second to Lakeland state champion Garret Zuk in the KLAA Lakes Conference meet on May 12, 2012.
Titus sweeps throws
Titus’ sweep of the discus and shot put in the Division 4 championship made him the first Livingston County boy to win two events in the same state meet. The only girl to do so was Fowlerville’s Debi Hughes, who was the long jump and 220-yard dash champion in the 1975 Class C meet.
When Titus made a clutch throw of 169 feet, 10 inches to survive prelims, that effort made him only the fourth county individual to repeat as a state champion. Howell’s Dick McMacken repeated as Class B shot put champion in 1957, Hughes repeated in the 200 in 1975 and Pinckney’s Michael Weishuhn defended his Division 1 high jump title in 2001.
Imagine if Titus would’ve attended his hometown school. With a personal best of 58-10 in the shot put, he would’ve taken down the oldest school record in the county, McMacken’s 54-6 in the 1957 regional meet.