Paul Proteau (foreground) pulled ahead of teammate Cooper Marrs (in second) about halfway through the race and pulled away to win it over the final mile. Marrs finished second overall. | Photo by Bob Skolnik

Powered by sweeping the top three places, the Riverside-Brookfield High School boys cross country team turned the tables on rival Wheaton-St. Francis on Oct. 16, capturing the Bulldogs’ first conference title since 2017 at the Metro Suburban Blue conference meet at Elmwood Park High School. 

Senior Paul Proteau won the race, covering the flat three miles in a course-record time of 15 minutes, 5.1 seconds. Sophomore Cooper Marrs, the defending conference champion, finished second and also broke the previous course record with a time of 15:15.2. Jack O’Brien, also a sophomore, came up big for the Bulldogs, finishing third in 15:54.1. 

The five top finishers for RBHS, which included four sophomores, made the all- conference team by finishing in the top 12. Hayden Marrs and William Kallas both ran strong races, with Marrs finishing 11th in 16:37.3 and Kallas 12th at 16:40.8. 

RBHS tallied just 29 points (the lowest point total wins in cross country) to take the team title despite St. Francis – which finished with 38 points — placing all five of its scoring runners in the top 10. Two weeks earlier St. Francis had edged the Bulldogs by just two points at Lisle Invitational.

“We knew going in it was going to be pretty close, but I think we showed them a little bit,” said Proteau about defeating St. Francis. 

Proteau finished ahead of Cooper Marrs for the first time this season. The two led for the entire race, with Marrs at the front for nearly half the race before Proteau passed him and pulled away over the last mile.

“We like to work off each other,” Proteau said of running with Cooper Marrs. “He and I, we’re constantly fighting it out during practices and during meets. I couldn’t ask for a better teammate. He has always been someone I could work off of and just get better and improve with.”

But Saturday was Proteau’s day.

“It was one of those races where everything felt smooth,” Proteau said. “My head was cleared out and I just felt very good today.”

O’Brien’s race was perhaps the key to defeating St. Francis as the sophomore ran most of the race stride for stride with St. Francis’ top runner, Andrew Hernandez, and Wheaton Academy’s Sheldon Powell, before outsprinting them both in the final 200 yards.

“It was a lot of fun,” O’Brien said. “When you’re around people like that it just pushes you to do your best.”

The Bulldogs’ sixth runner Zack Gaynor finished 13th, right behind Kallas, with a time of 16:41.0. The Bulldogs’ final finisher was Brennan Lester who finished 21st in 17:21.4.

RBHS girls 6th at conference meet

The RBHS girls cross country team finished sixth in the seven-team conference meet, scoring 155 points. Rosary captured the conference title with 41 points. 

The Bulldogs would have finished higher, but Bryce Kocourek, their normal top runner, was suffering from an ear infection and a cold and had to drop out of the race. Sophomore Lily Kocourek finished 26th in 20:33.6 to lead the Bulldogs. 

Right behind her was sophomore Maria Dalton, who finished 27th in 20:35.2.  Freshman Gianna Gelb finished 31st with a time of 21:04.5. Mia Wagner finished 32nd in 21:21.0. Joaliz Rodriguez completed the scoring for the Bulldogs by finishing 39th in 22:33.3. Maiana Nelson finished 42nd in 23:00.2.

LTHS boys 2nd, girls 4th in WSC-Silver

The Lyons Township High School boys cross country team finished second at the West Suburban Conference Silver Division cross country meet held at the LTHS South Campus on Oct. 16, finishing 15 points behind champion Hinsdale Central. 

Senior Charlie McLawhorn finished fourth in the race with a time of 15:47.92 over his home 5,000-meter course to lead the Lions.

The LTHS girls finished fourth in the team standings with 89 points. York won the team championship with 34 points. Junior Catherine Sommerfield was the top finisher for LTHS, finishing fifth in a time of 18:06.01.