STERLING – Curtis Lilly was hoping to ace a pair of tests on Saturday.
The Sterling senior definitely handled one of them, as he was the fourth of four champions for the Golden Warriors at the 35th Carson DeJarnatt Invitational at Musgrove Fieldhouse. His other test: A retake of his ACT.
Lilly began his day at 7:30 a.m., with a pre-tourney weigh-in. He tipped the scales at 280 pounds, then it was off to Dixon High School for his second try at the ACT. He scored an 18 the first time.
Lilly started the test just before 8 a.m. and was done by 11:40 a.m., then made it back to Sterling in time for his first bout. That turned out to be the fastest pin of this year's event as needed just 12 seconds to dispatch Matt Overstreet of Burlington Central.
"Thank God I had a bye," Lilly said. "If I didn't have a bye, I probably wouldn't have made it for that round."
In the finals, Lilly encountered little difficulty in posting a 5-1 decision over Clinton's Jake Oldaker, an Iowa state tournament qualifier a year ago. It helped earn Lilly the most outstanding wrestler in the upper weights, with voting done by coaches.
"Everybody talks about how good Iowa is," Lilly said, "but it doesn't matter where you're from. As long as you work hard and wrestle good, you're going to be the best."
Lilly's win wrapped up a 4-for-4 performance for the Golden Warriors in the finals. Jaden Urrutia got the ball rolling in the right direction at 106 pounds with a technical fall win over Ecclesias Fambro of Belvidere North in the finals.
Urrutia won by technical fall over all three of his opponents.
"I'm trying to do that every meet, just to prove myself and help our team win," Urrutia said.
Next up for Sterling was 113-pounder Isaac Anderson, who scored a 4-0 decision over Belvidere North's Ricardo Roman. The two also met in last year's DeJarnatt finals, when Anderson won a 7-0 decision at 106 pounds.
"I just did what I did last year," said Anderson, who showed no ill effects from an early-season concussion. "I knew what he was going to do, and he pretty much knew what I was going to do. He put up a really good fight this year."
The lone finals winner by pin for Sterling was 195-pounder Josh Villareal, who finished off DeWitt's Jake Feldpausch in 3:53. Feldpausch scored the first takedown 25 seconds into the match, but it was all Villareal after that.
"As soon as I get people to their back, I have a pretty good judgment of whether or not I'm going to be able to pin him," Villareal said. "I knew it wasn't going to be a quick pin. It was going to take me a while, but I got him."
Sterling finished with 148.5 points, behind just Clinton, Iowa (204.5) and Rock Island (187.5). It was the second encounter in a week for the Golden Warriors with the Rocks, who won a 48-33 decision at the Dixon Duals on Dec. 1.
Sterling coach Charlie Bishop was encouraged about a possible regional encounter with Rock Island, considering he was without a pair of regulars. Canaan Gillihan, the regular at 182, was out with mono, while 152-pounder Austin Ingram didn't compete after being late to weigh-in. Also, Austin Olalde wrestled up a weight at 138.
"If we can get everything put into place by the end of January, we could be looking at a regional title," Bishop said. "At the beginning of the season, you wouldn't have said that. But after dualing Rock Island and seeing them at this tournament, I really think we could do that."
Dixon finished eighth among 10 teams with 42 points and had a pair of finalists in 138-pounder Kylian Lally and 132-pounder Trent Brinkmeier.
Lally led 2-1 after two periods after successfully riding out Rock Island's Devin Syler in the second period. Lally escaped with 33 seconds left in the third period, then added a takedown 10 seconds later to polish off a 5-1 win.
"I'm really confident in escaping," Lally said. "I think once I escape, I can get a takedown pretty easily."
After a scoreles first period, Brinkmeier was unable to escape in the second in his title bout against Rock Island's Chase Wiggins. Wiggins scored a reversal at the 1:13 mark of the third period to take a 2-0 decision.
"I knew coming in he was a leg-rider," Brinkmeier said, "and I'd have to get out. It's just something I've got to work on. Next time I see him, hopefully I'll get better on the bottom."
Top 3 teams
1. Clinton 203.5
2. Rock Island 187.5
3. Sterling 148.5