From the moment he could walk, Titus Jackson showcased a rare natural athleticism. By the time he hit high school, he appeared destined to be a prep star.
Now, after a junior track season in which he finished second in the state 3A championships in the 300-meter hurdles (39.25) and third in the 110-meter hurdles (14.97), the Montezuma-Cortez High School senior has accepted an offer to join Western Colorado University’s track and field program next fall.
“It has always been my dream to be a collegiate athlete,” Jackson said, before signing his letter of intent at M-CHS on Feb. 18. “I saw myself playing basketball, but track is where my heart is at the moment.”
While Jackson’s development as a hurdler did not begin in earnest until last spring when he dedicated himself to the sport.
“My cousin, Micah Hightower, got me into hurdles,” Jackson said. “Freshman year, I didn’t compete a lot and sophomore year, I came out late and hurt my leg. Junior year, I really fell in love with the track environment.”
With help from longtime M-CHS head track and field coach Bob Archibeque and the M-CHS coaching staff, Jackson became a leader on and off the track.
After his junior season, colleges began calling, but a visit to Western Colorado helped him make a decision.
“(Western) reached out to me, and I got to go up there and take a campus visit and meet the team,” he said. “I actually got to stay in the dorms up there with the team. It was a lot of fun, and I felt very welcomed.”
Next fall, Jackson likely will come under the tutelage of the program’s head coach, Lindsey Gramick, who was an eight-time NCAA Division II qualifier for the national championships and held Adams State University’s record in the 400-meter hurdles.
Since taking over as head coach at Western Colorado three years ago, Gramick’s sprinters and hurdlers have set 11 school records and qualified for the NCAA Division II championships numerous times.
“I was impressed by the friendliness of the coaches, and I could see myself being very successful in (Western’s) program,” Jackson said.“Compared to other schools that offered, I just saw Western offering me more of an opportunity for success.”
Until then, Jackson has unfinished business on the basketball court after qualifying for the Class 3A State Tournament last season.
He averages 14.6 points and a team-high 6.6 rebounds per game for Montezuma-Cortez and has emerged as one of his team’s vocal leaders.
“Right now, my focus is mainly just on basketball,” Jackson said. “Once basketball is over, then I’ll focus on what I want to do in track. I am looking forward to trying to win state championships in both hurdles events, and I will come into the season ranked No. 1 in (Colorado’s 3A Classification) in both events.”
He’s made a believer out of his high school coach.
“Titus is the epitome of role model,” Archibeque said. “He is a very hard worker, and he has been gifted. He has been a pure athlete from the word “go,” kids like him, and he likes being around kids. He has an easy demeanor, and he’ll fit in well at Western.”
Until he leaves M-CHS, Jackson will continue to be a leader. He offered young athletes a little advice.
“Work hard no matter what it is you’re trying to work at,” Jackson said. “If your path takes a different turn, then let it. Do whatever your heart tells you to do.”