Doctors have told Brian Tietjens, Iowa State University’s record-setting high jumper, that he should never jump again because of the foot injuries that have dogged him throughout his career.
Tietjens’ family and coaches said he was so discouraged by the news that he has dropped out of school and is now working for a construction company.
Coach Bill Bergan said that Tietjens, who would have been a senior, decided against a bone graft operation that might have solved the problems caused by an injury in his left foot that never properly healed.
However, the operation would have required a long recovery period and there would have been only a 50-50 chance of success, the doctors said. Tietjens also broke his right foot, but that injury healed.
“I don’t think he wanted to come back to school and face all the questions people would be asking him,” Bergan said. “I’d be down, too, if I were told the thing I did best I could no longer do. He’s very discouraged.”
Tietjens’ mother, Barbara, who lives in Kensett, Iowa, said her son plans to return to Iowa State in January and complete work for a degree. She said he is away from home during the week on his construction job and couldn’t be reached.
Tietjens holds Iowa records for the best jump by a high school athlete (7 feet 3 inches) and by a collegian (7-6 1/2). He did the 7-6 1/2 in the Big Eight Conference indoor meet last winter, setting a league record.
Three weeks later, the 6-foot-4, 160-pounder cleared 7-5 to win the NCAA indoor championship.
Tietjens’ injury problems started in the summer of 1982 when he hurt his left foot in an unusual accident.
“He had on a pair of new shoes and was doing run-throughs through the pit,” said Ron McEachran, the ISU assistant in charge of field events.
“The back spikes on his right shoe caught in the top of his left foot. It broke the bone on the top of the foot, about where you tie your shoe laces.
“It was a freakish thing. That’s a bone that is rarely broken and it has never fully healed.”
A year ago, Tietjens broke a bone in his right foot, which is his takeoff foot. The bone snapped as he turned on an approach to the bar, putting him out of action for another long stretch, although he came back from that injury to win the conference and NCAA indoor titles.