Ever since he started to compete on the track at Sandwich High School, Michael Marrs had some lofty dreams.
Marrs made one of those incredible visions come true recently, signing an NCAA Division I Letter of Intent to attend Eastern Illinois University in Charleston and compete for the Panthers track and field program as a sprinter once his senior year is complete at SHS later this spring.
"My dream competing in track at Sandwich has always been to become a top-rated sprinter on the D-I level, and despite all the problems with the COVID-19 virus, I was still able to make that one dream come true," Marrs said.
"I couldn't be more excited moving forward."
Another dream and goal for Marrs has yet to be realized with his senior year ahead of him: making it to the Illinois High School Association State Finals on the bright blue track at EIU's O'Brien Stadium.
As a sophomore in 2019, Marrs just missed making it to state by a mere hundredth of a second in the 100-meter dash, where he clocked in third (11.19) at the Plano Sectional.
Then in his junior year, after producing a strong indoor season with a personal best of 7.13 in the 60-meter dash and a 23.61 in the 200, the pandemic quarantine kicked in and eventually canceled Marrs' hopes at getting to state once again.
"That was tough, no doubt, knowing that I'd been so close to getting to state as a sophomore and I wouldn't get a chance in my junior year because of the pandemic," Marrs said. "Hopefully I'll get another shot at advancing to Eastern and competing for a state medal later next spring."
Still, Marrs impressed EIU Director of Track and Field Brenton Emanuel, who is entering his third year as the leader of the Panthers program after being anointed the Ohio Valley Conference Indoor Coach of the Year in 2020 prior to the pandemic.
"Michael attended our high school junior day last year and really impressed us, meeting our guidelines that we want to see from potential high school athletes," Emanuel said. "He had a great junior day with us, and from that point on, I believed he could be a great fit with our program in the future.
"I see him as a strong 200 and 400 runner with us down the road, and I'm very excited to see what he can do on the next level."
Before that, however, SHS track and field coach Bolagi Adeoti hopes Marrs will be able to realize his dream of making it to state on the blue track of EIU as an Indians high school athlete before he finally does so on the collegiate level as a Panther.
"Knowing Michael since fifth grade, I've seen him grow every year into the great track athlete he's become each and every season since then," Adeoti said. "He works so hard, and he knows what it takes to have become a Division I athlete. He's had a goal in mind, and I couldn't be prouder of him.
"If we get a chance to compete next spring, I know Michael will show why he's worthy of a D-I scholarship, no doubt."