Luke Bozich has hit some bumps in the road this fall in his senior campaign with the Princeton High boys’ cross country team.
In a race in late September at Mercer County Park, Bozich slipped in a rut and sprained his ankle. After returning to action weeks later, Bozich got hurt again when he tripped over a log on the course at Holmdel.
While such bad luck could be discouraging, Bozich has been unfazed. “I have been injured a lot through cross country in high school; I have been able to deal with it,” said Bozich. “Plus, I used to get injured all the time running when I was a kid.”
Last Friday at the Mercer County Championships at Washington Crossing Park, a healthy Bozich had a great time, placing seventh in the race to help PHS take second in the team standings behind champion WW/P-S.
Following Bozich for the Little Tigers was junior Kevin Vahdat in eighth, sophomore Jacob Rist in 11th, senior Matt Wong in 34th, and junior Conor Donahue in 35th.
For Bozich, who covered the 5k course in 16:22, the top 10 finish was something to savor.
“This is the first time I have ever run varsity here; it feels great,” said Bozich, noting that his best time in the course was 19:07.
“I ran varsity at sectional my sophomore year but I fell apart last year. I came back for my senior year and I was ready to go.”
Running with teammate Vahdat at the front of the PHS pack helped Bozich come through in the county meet.
“Kevin took the lead towards the second loop of the woods and up the last hill so I tried my best to keep up with him,” recalled Bozich of Vahdat who clocked a 16:24 time.
Displaying a strong finishing kick, Bozich passed Vahdat in the last few yards of the race.
“I was mad so I went for it,” said Bozich. “I have asthma so during the race if I can’t breathe as much it gets me irritated. I am hoping to do my best and it hinders me.”
While Bozich was proud of his seventh place finish, the main goal is to give his all for the squad. “I never really shoot for a time,” explained Bozich. “I just try and go out there and do the best race I can for the team and wherever that puts me; that is fine.”
Bozich draws strength from the group dynamic surrounding the PHS squad. “I feel like as a team, we are more unified,” said Bozich.
“There is something about us when everybody is in the huddle before the race. Everyone gets going and everyone is really happy and I feel like that helps a lot.”
With the Group 3 Central Jersey sectional meet slated for this Saturday at Thompson Park in Jamesburg, Bozich and his teammates are primed for another big effort.
“We are just going to go out and do our best,” said Bozich. “We are going to save all that power for the states and whatever may come after that.”