Riverside Brookfield High School senior multi-sport standout Cooper Marrs soon will be worrying about fastballs exclusively.
In his final cross country race for the Bulldogs, Saturday, Marrs once again excelled against fast runners on a fast course. Marrs earned top-25 all-state honors for the third straight year by taking 19th in the Class 3A state meet at Peoria’s Detweiller Park.
“I consider myself an athlete,” said Marrs (14:40.21 for 3.0 miles), who will play college baseball at NCAA Division III Denison University (Granville, Ohio). “All of these guys work hard, just like me. It’s fun to try and do this and see how fast I can get in the three months I run for.”
Marrs previously was all-state twice in 2A. His fifth-place finish in 2022 led the Bulldogs to the school’s first state championship in any sport.
That is Marrs’ greatest cross country memory. Saturday, however, also was rewarding — a personal-best time after running 14:55.7 at Detweiller on Sept. 9.
“[The goal was] just a fast time really,” said Marrs. “I’m definitely proud of my time. Top 10 would have been nice, but a super-fast field. I’m not upset with where I finished at all.”
The Bulldogs were 21st, Saturday (456 points), and said goodbye to most of their state championship lineup.
Junior Brady Norman (106th, 15:28.51) was their No. 2 finisher, followed by senior Will Kallas (136th, 15:38.47), juniors Diego Lopez-Molina (145th, 15:43.04) and Asa Kahle (176th, 15:57.24), and seniors Jack O’Brien (197th, 16:07.25) and Brennan Lester (218th, 16:19.72).
Marrs, O’Brien (an all-state 16th in 2022), Norman, and Lester returned from the state championship lineup. Senior Hayden Marrs, Cooper’s brother, also ran at 2022 state but was sidelined all this season.
Cooper Marrs was four-time All-Metro Suburban Conference, O’Brien and Kallas were three times and Brennan and Hayden Marrs twice.
“The loss of our seniors will be huge,” RBHS coach Jack Brady commented. “That’s a lot to replace.”
Besides being a standout baseball player in the spring, Cooper Marrs also has been on the boys swimming team. Even without year-round distance training, Marrs certainly has made his mark as the first three-time all-stater in program history. The Bulldogs’ three 2-time all-staters — Jim Keen, Mike Marks and John Unger — were top-10 finishers during the Bulldogs’ 1972-75 heyday when state cross country was just one class.
Marrs was 22nd at state in 2021, when he collapsed near the chute but recovered and finished just in time. His time Saturday would have finished fourth in the 2A boys race. Marion senior Dylon Nalley, the 2A champion, ran the fastest among all classes Saturday (14:05.20).
In his race, Marrs was seventh after one mile and 10th after two.
“Super stacked race, just happy to out with all-state,” Marrs said. “It was a tough race, to be honest. I felt myself slipping a little at the end there but just glad I could hang on enough to get all-state.”