Riverside-Brookfield High School junior Paul Proteau and freshman Cooper Marrs were determined to hold their No. 1 and 2 seeds for the 800-meter run at the IHSA Class 3A Morton Sectional on June 10 and advance to their first boys track and field state meet.
They never finished the race.
At the cut-in point to the inside lanes around 100 meters, Marrs and Proteau collided. Both fell with Marrs getting spiked.
“I remember Cooper tried to get up. I stopped because at that point I knew we were through,” Proteau said.
“I was super devastated, but Paul’s kind of got my back,” Marrs said. “We kind of knew we had to go one-two in the 1,600, even though we weren’t necessarily seeded No. 1 and 2.”
As the No. 3 and 6 seeds, Proteau and Marrs in fact finished 1-2 in the 1,600 to lead several inspired efforts that earned the Bulldogs four state berths June 19 at Eastern Illinois University.
Proteau (4 minutes, 34.24 seconds) and Marrs (4:34.74) both ran personal-best 1,600s. They then won the 1,600 relay with junior James Dalton and senior Miles Rubio (3:35.45) after earlier winning the 3,200 relay with freshman Jack O’Brien and Dalton (8:13.49).
“In all honesty, it was the smoothest-feeling [1,600] I’ve ever run and it felt good. I’m super happy for Cooper,” Proteau said. “To come off and take first, that was pretty cool. And a PR, which was nice.”
Marrs did his part in the 1,600 by moving from sixth to second on the final lap with a 58-second split.
“We didn’t take it out too fast. We held back until it was time to go,” Marrs said. “I felt really strong. We had a lot of motivation from what happened the previous race.”
Marrs and Proteau were the top two runners for the cross country team, whose abbreviated postseason never happened. The Bulldogs were placed in COVID-19 quarantine just before regionals.
O’Brien energized the third-seeded 3,200 relay with a 2:01 leadoff leg – a five-second best. The second-seed 1,600 relay fed off of Rubio.
“I think that was the highlight, an incredible one lap where he put us in position (to win). He had a great last 200 meters,” Proteau said.
Taking fourth were William Smithing (300 intermediate hurdles in 44.24), Dalton (400 in 52.70) and Muhammad Salem (2.74m/9-0 in pole vault).
LTHS boys qualify relay, 2 individuals for state
The Lyons Township High School boys track team placed eighth at the IHSA Class 3A sectional at Naperville North on June 10 with 30.5 points, qualifying one relay and two individuals for the state finals June 19.
Jocqael Thorpe (2nd in the 800 meters; 1:56.62) and Owen Hays (3rd in the 3,200; 9:27.64) were LTHS’ top individual performers. The Lions’ 3,200-meter relay of Charlie McLawhorn, Cade Nelson, Charlie McMahon, and Thorpe also advanced downstate, finishing third in a time of 7:57.21.