Dedication, determination, drive–a few words that Joe Burtzlaff builds foundation upon, a few words that have allowed him great success in his running career. Within the past 10 years, Burtzlaff has accomplished 9 seasons of cross-country and nearly 70 races…consistently finishing within the top ten finalists. With his last high school cross-country season drawing to end, the runner is faces the most critical race in terms of his future.
Running a staggering 16:24 race time, Burtzlaff qualifies for regionals, taking place on Saturday, October 28th. Placing within the top 28 will open doors to Division 1 schools, open doors to his future path. Burtzlaff contests regionals will be the “biggest race of his life.” With Miami University held close to the heart, the runner plans to quantify–acknowledging “he wants it enough” to run like never before.
A myriad of students assume membership on Lakewood High School sports teams in compensation for gym credits, for an activity to record on college applications, for a time filler. To Burtzlaff, running is apart of life–breathing, living, thriving for the sport. When caught in the middle of a race, he asserts,”Nothing else matters, it’s an escape from everything.” Giving up is never an option, much less a loss. The runner displays a robust sense of dedication in stating,”winning is fun, but losing is even worse and that what keeps me going.”
The passion originated in the 2nd grade as he began running Lakewood Catholic Academy’s cross-country team. Even after transferring into the public school system in 3rd grade, Burtzlaff continued to run for LCA through 8th grade that was equipped with better coaching–growing his stamina, endurance, and speed.
Today, the competitive nature of running translates into other areas of his life–propelling him to excel in a multitude of AP classes and honors courses. He assimilates the same mantra of running with testing, believing “If you’re not first, you’re last.”
Prior to the race on Saturday, Burtzlaff will follow his normal race routine–a routine that consists of walking the track before hand, following with a 2 mile warm up, lacing up his spikes, and finishing with a prayer before the sounding of the gun at the start line. 3 miles, 16 minutes, and a great deal of sweat later, he will unfold his future. Not matter the outcome, one thing is clear: Burtzlaff will continue to run far in all areas of his life.
Good luck this weekend, Joe!