DIXON – Just when Rock Falls' Augie Aguilar gave his team some life, Dixon's Mason Rhodenbaugh squeezed it out.
With the Dukes nursing a 3-point lead heading into the final bout, Rhodenbaugh came up with a clinching pin to give Dixon a 36-27 victory over the visiting Rockets on Tuesday.
The 113-pound Rhodenbaugh seized a 5-0 lead against Triston Willett in the first period with a takedown and 3-point nearfall, then finished off the bout by pin in 2 minutes, 23 seconds.
"I used a cross-face cradle," Rhodenbaugh said. "I haven't used it much this year, but I like using it a lot."
Dixon (3-6) is headed in the right direction after enduring a 1-win season in 2012-13.
"We're getting a lot better," Rhodenbaugh said. "We work hard, and we'll get there."
"It makes the guys feel good about being out here, and it makes me feel good about coaching," Dixon coach Chris Bishop said. "We're learning every time we go out there. Even when we lose individual matches, I think our guys are getting a lot out of it. We're getting there. Our three wins tells me the guys are starting to get it."
The Dukes won seven of 12 contested bouts. Brandon Hey (132), Trent Brinkmeier (138), Kylian Lally (152) and Bryce Schaeffer (170) won by pin, while Jake Johnson (126) and Calvin Jensen (145) took decisions.
Johnson won the closest bout of the evening, a 9-5 overtime decision against Konner Smith. They ended regulation tied 5-5, then Johnson won it with a takedown and 2-point nearfall with 18 seconds remaining in OT.
Dixon led 30-9 after Schaeffer's pin of Christian Torres at 170 pounds before Rock Falls (7-6) made its move. The Rockets received a forfeit at 182 pounds, then Lucas Newburgh and Francisco Arellano followed with decisions at 195 and 220, respectively, to draw within 30-21.
At 285, Aguilar dug himself a 4-0 hole against Dixon's Ryan Troutman when Troutman executed a takedown and 2-point nearfall at the end of the first period.
Troutman still led 4-2 with less than a minute left in the third period when Aguilar, in the down position, got his opponent to his back after a scramble. The pin at the 5:34 mark got Rock Falls to within 30-27, and with a double forfeit at 106, left the match up to the result at 113 pounds.
"That was all I was thinking about when I tied up with him," Aguilar said. "I needed to finish that match. When he landed on his back, I was really happy."
Rock Falls was without several regulars, including Shawn Davis at 106 pounds, Jevon Hey at 113 and Carlos Loyola at 170. Davis and Loyola were not in school Tuesday due to illness, while Hey is recovering from a car accident.
"Only about seven of my varsity guys were in the lineup tonight, and we were still able to make it a duel," Rock Falls coach Derick Cox said. "This is good for us. When we were done, they looked up and said, 'Boy, if I saved a point here or a point there, it might have made a difference.' The question now is can we start to make it happen."
Star of the match: Mason Rhodenbaugh (D), match-clinching pin
Up next: Rock Falls, Marengo at Burlington Central; Geneseo at Dixon; both 5:30 p.m. Thursday