'It's just as confusing for me': Bay Port alum Tinch can't explain rapid rise to star status

Green Bay native Cordell Tinch recently returned to the track after a three-year hiatus. He's already established himself as one of the world's best hurdlers.
Posted at 9:52 PM, Jul 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-12 10:29:34-04

Cordell Tinch's road to the World Athletics Championships has been unorthodox, to say the least.

"For as many people that are saying, 'It's confusing how he went from not doing anything to being there...' It's just as confusing for me," Tinch laughed.

The Bay Port alum has bounced around, attending four colleges over a five-year span. Most stunningly, he went more than three years without competing - or even seriously training.

"Physically and mentally, I just was out of track and field," Tinch said Tuesday in an interview outside of Green Bay's Edison Middle School, where he first took up the sport.

"I was like, 'I'll just go home for a semester,'" he said.

One semester turned into two. Then three. The next thing he knew, he'd been home for three years.

In the meantime, Tinch was working at the U.S. Cellular location in Suamico.

"It got to the point where I was just working," Tinch said. "Living what I thought was my life."

But the whole time, he wanted something more. And he knew he could still compete.

A few years back, he and his dad made a friendly wager after watching the NCAA Championships.

"It was on TV and my dad goes, 'Do you think you've still got it?' And I was like 'Yeah!' Tinch said.

So, the two went to a nearby track and bet $100 on whether or not Tinch run the 110 meter hurdles in less than 14 seconds.

He clocked in at 13.6. Not otherworldly, but good enough to win the bet and - more importantly - reignite the fire within him.

"If I just got up off the couch - legitimately - and went and got over 10 hurdles that fast without (any training)... What could we really do?" he said.

Last winter, he got the chance to find out when his former roommate recruited him back to the track.

"(In) early January he calls me and says 'Hey, I'm in Pitt, when do you get here?'" Tinch said. "And I go 'Um, I'm actually going to work right now...' And I went in and let them know I wasn't going to be back."

Tinch took off for Pittsburg, Kansas where he competed at Division II juggernaut Pitt State.

The success was fast and furious.

"I was the fastest hurdler in school history," Tinch said. "I had the farthest long jump in school history off of the first meet back, so... It just kind of opened the doors of what we were expecting."

His coaches quickly realized they had something special. They quickly ramped up Tinch's regimen, with the goal of getting him ready for a chance to qualify for Worlds.

Just months later, he's there - thanks to a second-place finish at last weekend's USA Track and Field Championships.

Next month he'll represent Team USA - something he dreamed about all those years back at Bay Port and Edison.

"One day I was here," Tinch said, looking around Edison's campus. "I had no clue in the world what I would be doing when I grew up.

"But for some reason I envisioned myself in the position I'm in (now)," he added. "It's a great feeling. It's wild. And I'm just grateful to be here."

Tinch is back in Green Bay to rest and relax until next week. Then he'll return to Pittsburg to continue training with his college coaches.

The World championships begin August 19 in Budapest, Hungary.