Berk Alptekin – Class of 2021 – Athlete of the Week

This week’s Athlete of the Week, Sophomore Berk Alptekin, is a story of perseverance and dedication. While most young athletes would be discouraged after failing to make a team as a Freshman, Berk has hit the ground running, literally, after being encouraged to try a brand new and unfamiliar sport.

Berk fell into Cross Country as a Freshman after he was encouraged to run Cross Country, with most seeing something in him that Berk maybe did not immediately see in himself.  Since joining the Cross Country program, Berk’s drive continuously motivates his teammates to become better runners and teammates.

“Berk’s work ethic is remarkable.  He has laser-sharp focus, which he is able to translate into complete, well run, and fast races,” Head Coach Jim Lancaster said of Berk. “This past week, despite a poorly groomed and muddy course, Berk helped us take second at the Greenbrier Christian Meet and nearly upset the Bulldogs from Norfolk Academy.”

Berk’s time was over a minute faster than last year on the same course. In 2017, Berk finished the Greenbrier Christian meet in a time of 21:21.5, his second fastest time of the year. Fast forward to 2018, Berk finished in 19:36 and propelled the Dolphins to a second place finish. The work Berk put in during the offseason has paid dividends, and the Dolphins, as well as Berk, are reaping the benefits of the Sophomore’s dedication to becoming a great runner.

“Berk’s work ethic has become more pronounced this year. He runs on the weekend, meeting up with his teammates and coaches to log runs up to 8 miles.  This has clearly paid off in his times. Last year he did not break the 20:00 barrier during the regular Cross Country season,” Coach Lancaster added. “This year, he has kicked the season off with two races, both under 20:00.  He is running consistently as one of our top 3 runners.”

Currently, Berk has finished both races in 19:33 and 19:36 respectively, improving by an amazing four minutes from the beginning of his journey last year. During meets, Berk and his pack, use the energy from each other to pass their competition, both invigorating their races while also surpassing their opponents. Berk’s love for his teammates and the Cross Country program is clear from the moment you set eyes on the young Cross Country member.

“Berk is a tremendous teammate.  His sharp wit, mixed with his clear love of the camaraderie that Cross Country brings is evident each and every practice,” Coach Lancaster finished. “In workouts, he has learned how to both push his teammates and encourage them to push him.  He is a focal point of the team’s ‘PacMan’ strategy.”

The Dolphins will look for Berk to continue his success, as Berk and the rest of the Dolphins’ Cross Country Program makes a run at the TCIS title.