ROCHELLE – Curtis Lilly simply ran out of gas. Bidding for his second straight sectional title, he just could not find the energy to get it done.
The Sterling senior heavyweight, who placed fifth at state a year ago, is headed back to Champaign, but not as a sectional champ. Lilly dropped a 3-0 decision to Kaneland’s ninth-ranked Zach Theis in the 285-pound final Saturday at the Class 2A Rochelle Sectional.
Lilly (35-6) had beaten Theis 2-1 in the Northern Illinois Big 12 final, but Lilly’s road to the sectional final did him in.
“My first match went double overtime, and my second match almost went overtime,” he said. “I didn’t have much left after the first period. I’ve been so sore and tired. Hopefully I won’t have to do any extra wrestling at state like I did here. It really does hurt you.”
The bout was scoreless until the third period. Theis (35-6) got an escape with 30 seconds left, then closed out the win with a takedown in the final seconds.
Lilly is ranked third by Illinois Matmen.
Other locals joining Lilly as state qualifiers include his Sterling teammate Isaac Anderson, who placed fourth at 113, and Dixon’s Kylian Lally, who took third at 138.
Lally, a junior, could hardly stand still after his dominating third-place win, even though he was already assured a berth at state; the top four finishers at sectionals advance.
The third-ranked Lally (42-8) bounced back with four straight wins after his first-round loss, including a 9-3 decision over Elliott Smith of Peoria Central (34-8) for third place.
“It feels amazing. It feels great to finally get there,” Lally said of earning his first trip to state. “I took the long road. After that loss, I knew it would be tough, and I felt it today. I’m glad it’s done, but it’s definitely worth it.”
The fourth-ranked Anderson, a sophomore, had to settle for fourth place, but earned a return trip to state. He got knocked off 11-0 by second-ranked and eventual champ Kyle Akins of Sycamore (39-1) in the quarterfinals. He won his next three bouts to reach the third-place match, but fell 6-4 to sixth-ranked Jeronnie Steward of United Township (40-6).
“I’ve been trying to build each year,” Anderson said. “The first year I was just trying to make it to state. This year, I want to place at state, and then pick up two state championships.”
Local state qualifiers
• 113 pounds, Isaac Anderson, Sterling, fourth place
• 138, Kylian Lally, Dixon, third place
• 285, Curtis Lilly, Sterling, second place