STERLING – The journey to the finals of the Northern Illinois Big 12 Wrestling Tournament was an enjoyable one for Sterling's Jaden Urrutia and Dixon's Kylian Lally.
The finals themselves, not so much.
Urrutia and Lally were each dominated in their title bouts, and settled for second-place finishes on Saturday at Musgrove Fieldhouse.
Urrutia (17-4) found himself on the receiving end of a headlock from Yorkville's Tyler Burlington (26-10) 20 seconds into their 113-pound championship bout. Urrutia was flung to the mat and tried in vain for the next 45 seconds to get off his back.
Burlington, however, remained in charge, and finished it off with a pin at the 1:06 mark.
"He had an over-and-under set up, and I just did that headlock," Burlington said. "The pressure was just perfect right there. I did that headlock and stuck him with it. He rides good on top, so I just got it done in the first period so he couldn't get on top."
A year ago, Urrutia won a pair of head-to-head decisions in the regular season, then Burlington took a major decision at the sectional. It was the first meeting this season between the two.
"Overall, we're equal wrestlers," Urrutia said, "but he just caught me in a move. He got me in that headlock and stuck me. It should have been a 1, maybe 2-point match, but I just got caught. I need to use this to drive me to not let it happen at sectionals, where it actually matters.
"This is just preseason to me. I'm getting ready for the big stage."
Lally struck first in the 138-pound final against Ottawa's Daniel Close with a takedown midway through the first period, but that turned out to be the only highlight for the Dixon wrestler.
Close countered with a reversal with 6 seconds left in the first period to tie it up, then scored another reversal with 30 seconds remaining in the second period to go up 4-2.
"Once he tied it up, I just let that get in my head," Lally said. "I wasn't wrestling my match anymore."
Lally was in the down position to start the third period, and was unable to escape. To make matters worse, Close put Lally to his back for a 3-point nearfall, securing a 7-2 win.
For Close, who also beat Lally 4-2 in a wrestleback match last year at state, it was a matter of persevering.
"That first move, you can't let that go to your head," Close said. "You've got to keep going, keep wrestling – that's all you can do."
Dixon finished 11th among 12 teams with 37 points. Jake Johnson (126) and Ryan Troutman (220) both placed sixth for the Dukes.
Sterling scored 110 points and took seventh as a team. Nick Terronez (152) and Bryant Lilly (195) finished fourth; Tyrone Long (106), Zach Depuy (126), and Tanner Massey (170) were fifth; and Isaac Figueroa (120), Riley Cornwell (182), and Cariel Beasley (285) were sixth for the Golden Warriors.
Yorkville defended its team championship by earning 237 points, just ahead of runner-up Geneseo, which had 219.5. The Foxes had four champions in Burlington (113), C.J. Milliron (126), Gunner Hjorth (152) and Tyler Wilkinson (160).
Top 3 teams
1. Yorkville 237
2. Geneseo 219.5
3. DeKalb 180