BUTTE – For roughly 10 minutes on Friday, Helena High’s Trey Tintinger brought a packed Bulldog Memorial Stadium to a complete standstill. Even after the freshman high jumper had cleared 6 feet, 3 inches; 6-05; 6-09 and 7-0, his personal-best for the season, he wasn’t done.
While fans, coaches, teammates, family and friends waited eagerly, Tintinger told officials to set the bar at 7 feet, 1.5 inches. After he knocked over the bar on his first two tries, he had one last chance to set a new all-class Montana state record.
Following his pre-jump walk up, the crowd slowly began to clap. Then, the precocious underclassman dropped his arms, took a deep breath, set his feet and leapt into the Montana record books. Once he’d cleared the bar and bounced back up from the mat, Tintinger was tackled to the ground by a mob of exuberant teammates.
Finally, the typically stoic 14-year-old could not contain his excitement any longer.
“It really means a lot to me,” Tintinger said after he grinned and posed in front of the bar he’d just soared over. “My first goal was to win the state championship, the second goal was to set the record. I’ve been thinking about this since the beginning of the track season. I’ve been looking at 7-01 in practice … and today was the day to get it.”
Tintinger clearly has an amazing set of physical tools. But the one thing that has allowed him to constantly achieve greater success is his unusually mature attitude.
“He’s extremely tough mentally, particularly at his age” said Andrew Mozer, Tintinger’s jumps coach. “It’s actually not really competition-oriented, he’s much more goal-oriented.”
Last summer, the secret of Tintinger’s advanced abilities got out out before he even set foot on the Helena High campus. At a national event in California, the tall, muscular incoming freshman announced his presence in the high jumping world with resounding authority when he broke an American record for his age group.
As an assistant track coach at Helena Middle School, Mozer first spotted Tintinger’s tremendous potential when he was in the seventh grade. Following Tintinger’s eigth-grade season, he realized he wanted to do everything he could to help the young athlete further his development.
“Usually, I don’t coach anybody for Junior Olympics, but I knew that this was such a rare opportunity to coach a kid like this that I approached him and his dad,” Mozer said. “I told them that if he wanted go to the Junior Olympics he was less than an inch away from the record and we could probably take it down.”
Mozer continued to work indvidually with Tintinger as he entered high school and has been a driving force in helping him stay focused.
“You never want a jumper like him to get complacent with what he’s doing,” Mozer said. “Every single time we work in practice I have to make him uncomfortable. I set the bar at 6-10 or 6-11, and he asks if he has to, and I tell him, ‘It’s the only way you’re going to get anything out of it.’”
This spring, Tintinger has risen to even greater heights. During Helena High’s dual with Great Falls CMR at Memorial Stadium in early May, he made waves across social media when he cleared 6-11. Not only was that jump the highest mark in Montana for 2017 by a large margin, it also thrust him into top-15 highest totals of all high jumpers in the country.
Back in December, the possibility of such a wildly successful season seemed unlikely. Tintinger had suffered a significant right knee injury that limited his basketball season and cast some doubt on the upcoming season.
“We wanted to get him as ready as possible for this season,” Mozer said. “Your left leg has most of the power, but what people don’t realize is that when you run, it’s your opposite leg that has to absorb all of your speed. That’s why when he gets too excited he kind of collapses into the bar; he can’t handle that speed yet.”
As it turns out, Tintinger, as he always does, pushed any negative thoughts from his mind. Now, he’s firmly cemented his spot as one of the truly elite high jumpers. Tintinger’s performance on Friday placed him sixth nationally.
The Bengals’ star will again compete in the Junior Olympics this summer, where he will be a favorite to finish first. But Tintinger has such lofty goals planned for his future that he just might never be satisfied.
“Sophomore year I’m going for 7-05, junior year 7-07 and senior year, something like 7-9 or 7-10,” Tintinger said.