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Cordell Tinch — You Can’t Make Up A Story Like This

Cordell Tinch — You Can’t Make Up A Story Like This

I think I’m supposed to say hurdles,” says Tinch when asked what’s his best event. And it is hard to argue with his recent 12.97w. (DEREK LIVINGSTON/PSU ATHLETICS)

THIS ISN’T BASEBALL, and Cordell Tinch is no Sidd Finch. But yet, there’s something about the Pitt State senior’s story that reminds those with long memories of Finch, writer George Plimpton’s April Fools’ Day creation who graced the pages of Sports Illustrated nearly 40 years ago.

Finch, a French horn player, from Old Orchard, Maine, supposedly dazzled the baseball scouts with his 168mph fastball, setting the sports world talking.

Tinch, a year ago a cellphone salesman in Green Bay, Wisconsin, has dazzled the track world with his shocking hurdle speed. And everyone wants to talk with him.

That’s because, unlike Finch, Tinch is decidedly very real.

The phone has been ringing non-stop. His head, he says, “has been spinning.”

What ignited this firestorm of attention? On the first weekend in May at the MIAA Championships in Jefferson City, Missouri, Tinch put on quite a show. Already the Div. II Indoor champion in the 60H and high jump, he first won the long jump, reaching 27-½w (8.24) pushed along by a 3.2 breeze. Then came the hurdle heats, where with a windy but not ridiculous 2.8 reading, he clocked 13.07. Not bad at all for a guy with a 13.32 legal PR.

The next day, he won the high jump with an outdoor best 7-1¾ (2.18). Then came the hurdle finals. With the wind gauge showing 3.0, he exploded to a 12.97w, becoming the No. 2 collegian of all-time in all conditions.

All this from a 22-year-old guy who less than a year ago was working at that phone store with no thoughts of ever pursuing athletics again. A guy who walked away from D1 track three years earlier and who hadn’t trained in that time.

Wait, you’re thinking, so he was doing something else to stay fit, right? “No, I was not,” he explains. “I was working at U.S. Cellular and that’s about all I was doing. I didn’t really do much more than that: selling cellphones, cellphone plans, watches.” He laughs, fully cognizant of just how crazy it all sounds.

To make sense of this young man’s pathway, let’s start at the beginning. He grew up in Chicago and then Green Bay with a household that was not particularly a sports family, though one of his younger sisters runs prep track and plays volleyball, and he has a cousin down south who plays some good basketball.

Years ago his mother sent him…

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