Tinch setting records on college track
Former Bay Port standout breaks Division II national hurdle record
By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Cordell Tinch seems to be back on “track.”
Tinch, a 2018 Bay Port High School graduate, has found success again in the track and field world — in a big way.
Now running at at Pittsburg State University (PSU), Tinch recently won Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association (MIAA) titles in the 60-meter hurdles (7.58 seconds) and high jump (7-3.25 feet) at the conference track and field indoor meet on Feb. 24-26.
For his efforts, Tinch qualified for the NCAA Division II meet in Virginia Beach, Va, on March 10-11 in three events.
Although he didn’t compete at the MIAA meet in the long jump, Tinch advanced to the national meet in that event because of the success he’s had throughout the indoor season.
At a meet in mid-February, Tinch broke the all-time Division II record in the 60-meter hurdles with a time of 7.50 seconds.
“It’s a surreal feeling, but I still don’t think I’ve had my best race yet. But I’ve been able to run some truly amazing times,” said Tinch, who on Feb. 28 was named the Division II National Athlete of the Week this year. “Hopefully, going into nationals I can get my technique down — get my start the way I want it, so I can have a comfortable race and hopefully have another PR (personal record).”
Tinch’s high jump mark at the conference meet was also a PR.
“I went into the conference meet just looking to get another good rep in for the high jump before nationals, but I was able to get another PR — that felt good,” he said.
The 22-year-old is hoping for big things at the national meet this weekend.
“I believe I’m seeded number two in the high jump and number one in the long jump and the hurdles,” he said. “Hopefully, I can either have big days or do enough to win. I plan to come out with hopefully three dubs (wins).”
Recruited to PSU
After graduating from Bay Port, Tinch was recruited to play football and run track and field at the University of Minnesota, a Big Ten school in Minneapolis.
After leaving Minnesota, he eventually landed at Division I University of Kansas, a Big 12 school in Lawrence.
“After Minnesota and Kansas, I needed a break mentally and physically,” Tinch said. “I was drained from track and field and lost the passion I had for it. While living at home, it was a lot of growing up — it benefited me in the long run. Being able to go home and get real-life experience and understand where I was headed in life.”
Tinch said last summer, the coaches at PSU reached out to him.
“I gave them a half answer,” he said. “I was OK with it, but I wasn’t pursuing it. A few of my former teammates at Kansas were talking about it, and we all ended up [at PSU]. There’s a group of us who came [to PSU] with the same goals in mind — to get back on track, both academically and athletically. So far, we’re off to the races.”
Tinch is happy to be back in the track world.
“I’m grateful to have this opportunity to be back on a college track and field team and show what I can do,” he said.
PSU’s track and field coach, Kyle Rutledge, said Tinch has unbelievable talent.
“You can’t deny how talented Cordell is,” he said. “He understands his body and track and field — that’s something special. You can watch him and see he understands how to jump and hurdle naturally.”
Rutledge said Tinch’s talent goes beyond track and field.
“He’s an even better person,” he said. “He’s a phenomenal person to coach and receptive to coaching. It’s enjoyable to coach somebody who has talent but is also receptive to change — he understands what he needs to do to get better and has that desire. When you have somebody like that, that’s when special athletes take over and start breaking records.”
How fast can he go?
Tinch, a junior academically and a sophomore athletically, wants to break the all-time collegiate record in the 60-meter hurdles.
“There are a lot of goals I’ve set for myself,” he said. “After I went 7.50, I wanted to get to 7.30 before the end of the indoor season. The all-time collegiate record in any division is 7.35. I also want to be a national champion.”
How about the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris?
“That certainly would be awesome,” Tinch said. “I need to focus on the now, but the Olympics is something I’ve always dreamed of. If that’s a bridge we can cross next summer, I’d look
forward to that.”
Rutledge said nothing would surprise him about Tinch’s future.
“Anything is realistic,” he said. “There are things he has to improve — get to the first hurdle a little faster and then handle the speed later in the race.”
Rutledge said people have to remember Tinch has been out of racing for a long time.
“Understanding the rhythm and the tempo of the hurdles race, it takes a bit to get used to again,” he said. “I think 7.30 is doable — we just have to make some changes and get back into feeling how fast that is.”
Rutledge is hopeful Tinch’s successful indoor season is a prelude to the upcoming outdoor season.
“We’ve got some time to work on things, but we can do that in the outdoor season,” he said. “We’re trying to take it a bit easy right now because we understand Cordell has been out for a bit — that throws a wrinkle into things because you don’t know how his body will respond with that much time off. We have to be careful with the load we put on him.”
Bay Port days
Tinch was a three-sport star at Bay Port, excelling in basketball, football and track and field.
During his junior year, he won WIAA Division 1 state titles in the triple jump and 110-meter hurdles at the state meet in La Crosse.
His triple jump mark of 49-2.25 feet in 2017 is still the state record.
In his basketball days, Tinch was known for his thunderous dunks and explosive jumping ability. He scored 633 career points for a career average of almost nine points per game.
In 18 career football games as a wide receiver for the Pirates, Tinch hauled in 87 receptions for more than 1,200 yards and 12 touchdowns.
“My mom will send me an old picture or video from a game she had taken,” Tinch said. “I think back to my Bay Port days, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do what I did there. My sister tells me people still ask her questions about me. I’m happy I’m a part of the culture there. Hopefully, it gives motivation to the kids at Bay Port now to dream big.”