STERLING – When Dixon senior Kylian Lally woke up Friday morning, his mind was racing and his body had a funny feeling. He knew that in about 12 hours he was running for history.
Lally was set to anchor the Dukes 3,200-meter relay team at the Sterling Night Relays and his stomach was churning. He had an important two-lap role on a relay that took aim at a 28-year-old record.
"That was eating me up all day because I was really excited for it," Lally said. "I just wanted to get it done. I really wanted to do it."
For about a month, the distance relay team of Evan Grady, Alexander LaMendola, Simon Thorpe and Lally pointed to Friday's Sterling Night Relays as the meet to break a long-standing record set back in 1986.
And just after 6:30 p.m., the starters' gun echoed throughout Roscoe Eades Stadium and Grady took off. With each pass of the baton, more eyes shifted toward the illuminated scoreboard. Lally started his leg with a slim lead but finished with enough space to park a semi-truck.
The Dukes crossed the line in 8:01.57, beating the previous school-record of 8:03.91, and second-place finisher United Township by more than nine seconds.
"That was so scary, that last leg," Lally said. "That last straight-away I was so scared. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it or not, and I didn't want to let them down.
"The scoreboard was all I was looking at it. I don't think that's what we're supposed to do, but I couldn't help it."
The win was a highlight for the Dukes, who placed third at the Relays with 72 points, while Sterling (60) took fifth and Rock Falls (16) placed eighth in the eight-team meet.
Rock Island won with 103 points, while United Township (90) and Galesburg (78) rounded out the top-three.
The four have been running the race together since the start of the indoor season, but have just recently started to drop some serious time down into the school-record range.
At the Rochelle Invite on April 19, the four ran an 8:11, and none of the members ran best times, so they pointed to Friday's meet as a prime opportunity with solid competition to push them.
"We knew we were going to state with that team," Dixon coach Bruce Luther said. "But we just wanted to start breaking some records.
"One of their goals was to break the record before the season was over, and it's nice to do it here. We have kind of our rivals here."
Thorpe also picked up a win in the 1,600 relay in 4:33.05. He said his body felt bad throughout the day and wanted to scratch the event, but decided to run and coasted to victory.
"My whole body was under the weather," he said. "I just ran to win in the mile. I kind of zoned out."
JD Gieson also performed well for the Dixon Dukes, taking second in the long jump with a distance of 21 feet, 8 1/2 inches, while teammate Kyle LeBlanc won the high jump with a height of 6 feet.
Host Sterling took fifth overall behind a strong showing in the field events. Senior Josh Knie placed second in the discus with a distance of 140 feet. Knie also took fourth in the shot put with a throw of 46 feet.
"They did really well," Golden Warriors coach Dennis Hartz said of the throwers. "They were probably our strongest area tonight.
"This is a high-powered meet. The boys side is pretty tough, so we're not disappointed. This meet is designed to bring out the best in teams."
Star of the meet: Dixon 3,200 relay team, Evan Grady, Alexander LaMendola, Simon Thorpe and Kylian Lally. Broke 28-year-old school record in 3,200 relay in 8:01.57.
Key performers: Kyle LeBlanc, Dixon, first in high jump, 6-0; Simon Thorpe, Dixon, won 1,600 (4:33.05); Josh Knie, Sterling, second in Discus (140-0) and fourth in shot put (46-0);