CHAMPAIGN – Sterling's Bryant Lilly and Jaden Urrutia had state championship hopes when they woke up on Friday morning.
Those hopes were dashed by Friday afternoon, but they still have a chance at hardware after winning wrestleback bouts at the IHSA State Wrestling Tournament at State Farm Center.
The 220-pound Lilly bounced back from a disappointing quarterfinal performance to take a 12-2 major decision from Rich Central's Raekwon Pittman. Lilly (32-12) had Pittman on his back at the end of the first period, and one mat official actually signaled the bout was over with a pin, only to be overruled by the other official.
Still, Lilly was in command with a 5-0 lead.
"Going up 5-0 in the first period at state is pretty big," Lilly said. "Then you can relax a little bit, think about your position, and usually they're going to make a mistake because they have to do something. I just stayed in good position, and caught him on his back again."
Lilly built a commanding 10-0 lead late in the second period, then stayed out of trouble the rest of the way. It was a good response to a 17-4 loss against Montini's Edgar Ruano in the quarterfinals.
"The Montini kid, he controlled the whole match," Lilly said. "He wrestled the way he wanted to, and I couldn't do anything. I've just got to do a better job."
Urrutia had a similar experience to Lilly. He was handled in the quarterfinals, but gutted out a 2-1 decision against Triad's Merik Fulton in the wrestleback round.
After a scoreless first period, Urrutia (23-6) scored a reversal with 1:13 left in the second period to seize a 2-0 lead. He then rode out Fulton until the final moments of the third period.
"He was more worried about not getting to his back than getting an escape," Urrutia said. "I put him in that position."
Urrutia drew a tough customer in the quarterfinal round in defending 106-pound state champion Dan Swan of Oak Forest. Swan had takedowns in the first and third periods in building a 5-0 lead before winning by pin in 5:06.
"Overall, he's just a great wrestler," Urrutia said. "He had one shot in the first period, and took me down with that shot."
Dixon's Kylian Lally also got a wrestleback, but was unable to advance. The 145-pounder gave up a reversal with 1:25 remaining in the second period against Woodstock Marian's Nick Remke, and Remke made that stand up for a 2-0 win.
Lally (32-8) was in the down position to start the third period, but was unable to escape in those 2 minutes.
The loss capped a difficult weekend for Lally. In his preliminary bout against No. 2-ranked SirRomeo Howard of East St. Louis, they were tied 6-6 in the waning moments of the third period. Howard then scored a takedown with 3 seconds remaining to claim an 8-6 win.
Stayin' alive: Three area Class 1A wrestlers kept their hardware hopes alive by winning first-round wrestleback bouts on Friday morning.
Newman 138-pounder Elias Edmondson took care of Shelbyville's Jared Finley by pin in 3:10. Edmondson was trailing 3-1 in the second period when he got got Finley to his back.
Polo's Ethan Cain needed just 1:08 to finish off Tremont's Cole Lenington at 160 pounds. Cain had dropped a 12-6 decision against Plano's Wes Brown in the quarterfinals.
Erie-Prophetstown 170-pounder Nick Williams stayed alive with a 15-6 victory against Westmont's Adam Ferrell. Williams began his day with a 5-2 loss to El Paso-Gridley's Hunter Sant Amour.
Losing first-round wrestleback bouts were Oregon's Dominic Marchetti and Tyler Blume, as well as Morrison's Austin Keller.
The 145-pound Marchetti was pinned in 4:17 by El Paso-Gridley's Gabe McKinley, while the 195-pound Blume lost by pin in 4:50 to Carterville's Joe Behan.
Keller, competing at 160 pounds, lost a 10-5 decision to Wilmington's Nick Hawkins.
Wrestlers losing on Thursday and not having the opportunity to come through the consolation bracket included Morrison's Austin Shoup (182) and Rock Falls' Lucas Newburgh (195).