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Tue. October 30, 2012 | Joey Knight | Email

Plant's Boza turns challenging chapter of his life into book

He celebrated his 52nd birthday on Monday, but it's Year 51 of Mike Boza's life that evolved into a page-turner.

The ultra-successful boys cross country coach -- first at Jesuit, now at Plant -- has written a self-published memoir focusing on his 2011 Panther team's state title quest, and concurrent training for his first marathon in more than a half-decade.

Run, Rinse, Repeat is part diary, part autobiography and part philosophical discourse from a hall-of-fame coach who won four state cross country titles at Jesuit alone. He's promoting it with a signing Saturday from 2-4 p.m. at The Running Center in Carrollwood.

In the prologue, Boza indicates the book's genesis; how a psychologist friend and mentor inspired him to chronicle his career. What he lacks in literary flair he atones for with anecdotes that range from amusing to enlightening to informative.

Though not designed as a manual for coaching or marathon training, Boza reveals chunks of his workout methods for himself and his team. The book alternates smoothly between Boza's own training (with his backstory interspersed), and the evolution of Plant's season.

The best morsels arrive when he shares parts of his background (i.e. his acquaintance with The Great Malenko of pro wrestling fame) that may come as a revelation even to friends.

With sparse detail, Boza reveals he was raised in a family stricken by depression and alcoholism. He takes readers deeper into his brief pursuit of becoming a minister, and acknowledges his futile try at resuscitating Leto's once-daunting distance-running program.

The book contains neither an antagonist nor riveting plot twist, and those who follow local running will know the end in advance. But Boza's undistilled passion for his sport -- he says it has made him happier, healthier and smarter -- comes through.

By the end of the 164 pages, runners who have been dormant for a while could be inspired to lace up and enter a five-kilometer race, or at least take a jog around the neighborhood.

And even Plant's rivals are likely to pull for the Panthers in the book's final stretch.

RESILIENCE IN MOTION: The prominent area girls runners who have been sidelined by one casualty or another during the course of the regular season are set to give it a go at this week's district meets.

Academy of the Holy Names sophomore Colleen Doherty, a two-time defending district champion who has run only once this fall due to a stress fracture in her lower leg, has been granted a medical hardship waiver by the FHSAA, athletic director Kevin Vargas said.

The waiver allows Doherty to defend her title at Thursday's 2A-9 meet despite state rules that require runners to compete in a minimum four meets to be eligible for districts.

Elsewhere, Plant coach Roy Harrison said his team, a two-time defending 4A state champion, is as healthy as can be expected entering Thursday's 4A-6 meet at Al Lopez Park.

Senior Julia Rodriguez, second at the recent Hillsborough County Championships despite battling mononucleosis, remains a bit weak, but Harrison said everyone else is good to go.

At Seffner Christian, junior Sabrina Whiting -- 18th at last season's 1A state meet -- will compete at Thursday's District 8 meet in Largo despite battling allergies and congestion virtually the entire season. Whiting finished second at districts in 2011.

District meets
4A-6 at Al Lopez Park, Tampa
When: Thursday (girls at 4:30, boys at 5:30)
Teams: Alonso, Bloomingdale, Freedom, Plant City, Plant, Tampa Bay Tech, Wharton

4A-7 at Newsome
When: Thursday (girls at 4:30, boys at 5)
Teams: Durant, Bradenton Manatee, Newsome, North Port, Riverview, Sarasota Riverview

3A-8 at Lake Park, Lutz
When: Friday (girls at 4, boys at 4:30)
Teams: Blake, Chamberlain, Gaither, Steinbrenner, Hillsborough, Jefferson, King, Leto, Sickles

3A-9 at Dover Horse Trails
When: Today, 2 p.m.
Teams: Armwood, Bradenton Bayshore, Brandon, East Bay, Lennard, Strawberry Crest

2A-9 at Anclote
When: Thursday (girls at 5, boys at 5:40)
Teams: Anclote, Berkeley Prep, Fivay, Academy of the Holy Names, Jesuit, Middleton, Robinson, Tampa Catholic, Weeki Wachee, Wesley Chapel

2A-10 at Oscar Scherer State Park, Osprey
When: Friday (girls at 10 a.m., boys at 10:45)
Teams: Sarasota Booker, Arcadia DeSoto, Wauchula Hardee, Lakewood, Lehigh, Bradenton Southeast, Spoto

1A-8 at Taylor Park, Largo
When: Thursday (girls at 9:30 a.m., boys at 10)
Teams: Academy at the Lakes, Bayshore Christian, Calvary Christian, Cambridge Christian, Carrollwood Day, Indian Rocks Christian, Seffner Christian, Tampa Bay Christian, Tampa Prep
 

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