DIXON – Kylian Lally went 40-9 last season and was nearly a state place winner. The scary thing is that Lally thinks he's significantly better this year.
The Dixon High School senior improved to 8-0 on the young season with three more dominant wins at Saturday's Dixon Duals. He pinned his first two opponents and almost pinned the third several times in a 16-2 major decision.
Lally qualified for state for the first time last season, going 2-2 in the Class 2A 138-pound bracket before getting knocked out in the wrestleback quarterfinals.
This year, he's aiming much higher.
"I definitely want to come home with a medal," Lally said. "Top three is what I'm hoping for. On top of that podium is what I'm shooting for."
He's literally worked overtime to reach his goals.
"I wrestled almost every day over the summer," Lally said. "I went to Overtime [School of Wrestling] for 3 days a week in Naperville. It's elite kids that go there. A lot of the top ones in the state.
"The group I was in, you had to be a state qualifier. I got my butt kicked a few times. At first, I felt out of place, then a few weeks in I felt like I belonged there."
Lally has been wrestling since he was 4, but he almost stopped several years ago.
"In fifth and sixth grade, I had losing records," he said. "In sixth grade, I was planning on quitting. Luckily, I stuck with it."
Seventh grade was a different story. Lally qualified for state and got a big boost of confidence.
Lally comes from a long line of successful wrestlers on his mother's side – the Butlers.
"She had five brothers that all wrestled," he said. "Some of them went to Newman, and some went to Dixon. One of them [Tom Butler] is up on the wall in the wrestling room.
"Every day, I would see that up on the wall. I wanted to be up there with him, so it helped me push myself in practice."
Lally helped Dixon, which was 0-5 coming into Saturday, nearly go 3-0 on the day. The Dukes (2-6) opened with a 46-24 win over Knoxville, then edged Boylan 37-36.
In its final dual of the day, Dixon led 36-31 heading into the 285-pound match, but Galesburg's Ricky Cantu pinned Ryan Troutman to give the Silver Streaks a 37-36 win.
Sterling also went 2-1 on the day. The Golden Warriors (5-3) began with a 45-30 win over Boylan, dropped a 39-30 decision to Sandwich, and thumped Knoxville 65-11.
Dixon wrestlers joining Lally at 3-0 were Trent Brinkmeier and Connor Sperling.
"My kids really stepped up and wrestled well," Dukes coach Chris Bishop said. "They're fighting. They're getting better each time we're out there. For a young team, that's what you do. You scrap to get where you can win, and you go from there. It's a really positive day for us."
Sterling got three pins from Nick Terronez, and three wins apiece from Will Canales and Cariel Beasley.
"The biggest thing we found today is that we have a lot of heart," said Warriors coach Charlie Bishop, who cited three of his wrestlers for their contributions on and off the mat. "I've got the three amigos, I call them, at 145 [Andrew Garcia], 152 [Terronez] and 160 [Jaime Briseno]. They fight the whole time. They get the whole team riled up."
• Dixon 46, Knoxville 24
• Dixon 37, Boylan 36
• Galesburg 37, Dixon 36
• Sterling 45, Boylan 30
• Sandwich 39, Sterling 30
• Sterling 65, Knoxville 11