Riverside-Brookfield High School sophomore Cooper Marrs, at left running with the lead pack, finished third overall and the Lisle High School “Mane Event” Invite on Oct. 2 with a time of 15 minutes, 30 seconds, just 4.1 seconds behind winner Drew Rogers of Herscher High School, one of the top runners in the state. RBHS placed second in the team standings, just behind conference rival Wheaton-St. Francis. | Bob Skolnik/Contributor

The Riverside-Brookfield High School boys cross country team is going to be seeing a lot of Wheaton-St. Francis over the next five weeks. They will face each other in the conference, regional, sectional and, likely, at the IHSA State Finals.

On Oct. 2, St. Francis edged RBHS by just two points at the Lisle Invitational, known as the “Mane Event” as the Bulldogs finished second in the 29-team field.

RBHS coach Jack Brady was encouraged by how his team ran.  

“I thought today, team wise, was the best performance we’ve had all year, up and down the line, one through six was great,” Brady said.

Sophomore Cooper Marrs again led the way for the Bulldogs, running with the lead pack the entire race and finishing third overall with a time of 15 minutes, 30 seconds over the 5,000-meter course, just 4.1 seconds behind Herscher senior Drew Rogers, one of the top runners in the state, who won the race and set a course record with time of 15:25.9. Junior Daniel Winkleman of Harvest Christian finished second at 15:27.2.

Marrs was happy with his race.

“I thought it went really well,” Marrs said. “I thought I ran it really smart, did everything we talked about, running just like efficiently and working it in the right places. The only thing I did wrong is that I thought my finish was a little questionable, thought it could have been a little better, but overall, I would say it was a great race.”

Senior Paul Proteau finished fifth with a time of 16:05.2 as the Bulldogs first two runners finished ahead of St. Francis’s top runner. Sophomore Jack O’Brien finished 12th at 16:38 as the Bulldogs placed three runners ahead of St. Francis’ second runner. 

But St. Francis had a strong pack of five runners in the top 21 and scored 75 points to 77 for the Bulldogs (in cross country the low score wins).

Hayden Marrs, Cooper’s twin brother, was the fourth finisher for the Bulldogs finishing 26th in 17:19.3 and junior Zack Gaynor was the Bulldogs final scorer finishing 35th with a time of 17:33.2.

Gaynor is just rounding into form, recovering from a pulled groin muscle and shin splints. Brady singled Gaynor out for running perhaps the best race of the day. Gaynor said he was disappointed that he could not pass two runners in the final sprint, which would have allowed the Bulldogs to take the team title.

The Bulldogs are looking forward to facing St. Francis again at the conference meet on Oct. 16.

“I think we can beat them,” Gaynor said. “We just need to have better finishes and then we’ll get them.”

Sophomore William Kallas finished 44th with a time of 17:42.6 and Tyrike Jenkins finished 140th in 20:02.9.

In the girls race the RBHS varsity team finished in 16th place. St. Francis also won the girls team title. 

Sophomore Maria Dalton was the Bulldogs’ top finisher, placing 30th with a time of 21:08.8 over the 5,000-meter course. Lily Kocourek finished 43rd (21:33.2), Mia Wagner was 75th (22:26.3), Joaliz Rodriguez was 125th (23:56.7) Ava Connerty finished 171st (25:12.8), and Emma Brossil was right behind Connerty in 172nd (25:13.4).