STERLING – With his team’s once 21-point lead whittled to one and just two matches remaining, Sterling’s Bryant Lilly delivered.
The junior 170-pounder pinned Streator’s Rhys O’Brien at the 1:11 mark of the second period to secure the Golden Warriors’ first dual win of the season after starting 0-6. Canaan Gillihan followed with another Sterling pin at 182 to give the Warriors a 45-32 Northern Illinois Big 12 conference-opening victory Thursday night at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
What was Lilly’s big move?
“It was a chicken wing,” he said. “It was there, so I took it. Since I’ve been wrestling for 3 years, I needed to go out and get a win for our team and that would put the match away. I went out there for a pin and got one.”
Sterling (1-6, 1-0 NIB 12) built a 27-6 lead after the first six matches. Joshua Villarreal got the Warriors started with a 6-5 come-from-behind win at 195 over Ryan Sedlock, who led 5-0 early.
“That’s from working hard in the [wrestling] room,” Villareal said of his comeback. “We do a lot of cardio. It’s all go – no quit. I just wasn’t fired up when I got out there. I need to find a way to do that.”
Senior heavyweight standout Curtis Lilly got a pin with 51 seconds left in the second period, and freshman 113-pounder Ivan Mendoza earned a pin with 57 seconds left in the first period.
The Warriors also got forfeit wins by Jaden Urrutia at 106 and Nate Anderson at 120 in building their 27-6 advantage.
Streator (2-4, 0-1) won the next three matches by technical fall, decision and pin to make it 27-20.
Sterling freshman Nick Terronez then came through with a pin at 145 with 1:01 left in the second period after building a 14-1 lead.
Terronez rocked the cradle throughout.
“It’s my signature move,” he said. “I’ve had it since last year. Every time I can get it, I’ll use it. I wanted the pin. That’s always the goal.”
Two straight Streator pins made it a one-point meet, with Sterling clinging to a 33-32 edge before Bryant Lilly and Gillihan finished things off.
“It’s very important to the guys to get the ‘W,’ just to build their confidence and get things rolling,” Warriors coach Charlie Bishop said. “Ivan Mendoza got a big win, and Nick Terronez got another huge one.
“That’s two freshmen out there. We threw them into the fire last week. They got six duals in two days. Tonight, they got us some good pins to help get us the win.”
Star of the meet: Bryant Lilly, Sterling, clinching pin at 170 pounds
Up next: Sterling at Dixon Duals, 10 a.m. Saturday