Riverside Brookfield High School senior Cooper Marrs pushed to the front of Saturday’s boys cross country race behind one of his strengths.
“I feel like hills is kind of one of the things I do pretty well,” Marrs said. “We train them a decent amount in practice.”
Marrs made a surge at the halfway point and never looked back in winning Lockport’s 5-kilometer Locktoberfest Invite by 23.8 seconds in 15:57.10 at rugged Dellwood Park.
The Bulldogs, ranked No. 25 in Class 3A by ILXCTF.com, also won the team title 68-79 over No. 23 Lincoln-Way East in a field with six top-30 teams.
Senior Jack O’Brien (7th, 16:39.5), junior Brady Norman (16th, 16:53.0), senior Will Kallas (19th, 16:58.6) and junior Diego Lopez-Molina (25th, 17:11.10) also earned top-25 medals, followed by junior Asa Kahle (27th, 17:20.4) and senior Evan McMullen (52nd, 17:56.6).
“That was good pack running. This course is tough and 5K,” RBHS coach Jack Brady said. “Cooper running away from the field, that’s awesome. The right time to start running.”
Marrs did not run last weekend at the Midseason Harvest Classic, where O’Brien finished second.
Brady said he is having his top runners choose to sit out one meet between last week, Saturday and this Saturday’s upcoming Elmwood Park Invite.
Back on Sept. 2, Marrs was fourth in 15:44.7 on Lyons Township’s flat 5K home course at the Mike Kuharic Invitational.
Marrs was among the top seven early but began progressing before making his decisive move.
“I decided, a nice downhill, I could open it up and no one really went with me,” Marrs said. “For a hilly 5K, I’m happy with [my time], super-stoked to see how that will play on a fast 3-mile course.”
Lopez-Molina continued his significant improvement as the Bulldogs’ No. 5 finisher Saturday after being their No. 3 finisher at the Harvest Classic (11th, 17:13.60 for the 5K).
Not being a part of last year’s 2A state championship roster motivated Lopez-Molina to come back stronger. He’s been battling for the No. 5 spot with senior Brennan Lester, who did not run Saturday.
“I think it’s really helped us to improve together,” Lopez-Molina said.
“Just wanting to be able to do good at state and be one of the best guys on the team [has motivated me]. I ran a lot in the summer and just putting in that work outside of cross country. And especially dialing in my nutrition and everything to make sure I can get all of the seconds off that I can.”