CHAMPAIGN -- Considering how Rock Island 120-pound senior wrestler B.J. McGhee has been winning all season, his two results on Friday were somewhat out of the ordinary.
Scores, though, can be misleading.
Never in any danger of being taken down, McGhee rolled to his second consecutive appearance in the Class 2A state finals despite what appeared to be closer-than-expected victories. The second -- an 8-3 semifinal win over Lincoln-Way West's Noah Keefe at the Assembly -- epitomized his dominant day.
Three takedowns and two back points made him the seventh wrestler in school history to appear in multiple state championship bouts.
"Everybody is thinking I'm having close matches," said McGhee, who earned a 12-6 win over top-seeded Chatham Glenwood senior Sam Butler in the quarterfinals. "I'm just scoring when I can score, not rushing anything. I'm striking really good."
Through three state bouts, McGhee has 11 takedowns. At no point has he been close to giving up a takedown. All that puts him in the finals against Lombard Montini's Vince Turk, who topped Morris' Kenny Baldridge in the other semifinal.
McGhee has not faced Turk this season.
"I can beat anybody in this bracket," McGhee said. "I'm extremely prepared. I'm going to go out with a bang. I'm not going to hold anything back. I'm going to wrestle to the best of my ability."
Within 15 seconds, McGhee took Keefe down in the semifinal. After cutting him, he secured another one to take a 4-2 lead into the second. McGhee closed the match with a takedown and near-fall in the third period to snag another championship appearance.
Guaranteed to be the fifth Rocky wrestler to win three state medals, McGhee looks to take one more step. He took third as a sophomore and second last year.
"It's going to be No. 1. I'm so confident right now," McGhee said. "I'm going to be (on the top of) that podium with the bracket."
For the first time in 11 years, United Township has a finalist. Senior Markus Murphy used a takedown midway through overtime to card a 6-4 win over Crystal Lake Central's Andrew Marsden in the 170-pound semifinal.
Lambros Fotos, the current UT head coach, was the school's last finalist. He won the 2002 Class AA 145-pound title.
"You know, I should be able to believe that I'm wrestling for a state championship," Murphy said, "but I can't. It's so surreal. I'm just extremely happy. I don't know how to cope with it."
Trailing 1-0 in the second period, Murphy took Marsden to his back and scored four points. Still ahead 4-1 in the third, he allowed two back points and a stall as Marsden rode him out.
Murphy nearly got a late escape that would have given him the regulation win, but the officials ruled him out of bounds with less than 10 seconds left.
Working a Hi-C with the overtime winding down, Murphy completed the match-winning takedown to continue his improbable postseason run.
"That overtime win puts me closer to what I've been waiting for this whole season," Murphy said. "This is the most amazing feeling in the world."
Up next is top-ranked Urbana senior Cameron Mammen, who pinned Geneseo's Brandon Mizlo in the semifinals. Murphy suffered an 8-0 loss to Mammen earlier this year.
"I'm feeling good," Murphy said. "I know I'm mentally ready to face him. I know if I go in the way I feel I should, I can beat him."
Mizlo, Schuldt fall in semis: Making his first-ever semifinal appearance, Mizlo was pinned by Mammen in 36 seconds.
"I don't know what happened," Mizlo said. "When I opened my eyes, there was a scoreboard (in the air)."
Mizlo advances to the wrestlebacks and is guaranteed a state medal.
"I've got to keep pushing and get that third-place medal," Mizlo said.
UT 152-pound senior Tanner Schuldt fell by technical fall in his semifinal bout against Richmond-Burton's Garrett Sutton.
"I can't really say much about it," said Schuldt, who moves to into the wrestlebacks. "I think I beat myself. It could have been a lot better match."
Quartet advances in wrestlebacks: Four locals dropped their quarterfinal matches, but rebounded to win their wrestleback opener.
UT junior Jeronnie Steward (113) and Geneseo freshman Hunter Grau (120) each won by fall. Rocky seniors Chase Wiggins (132) and Michael Cole (170) both earned decision victories.
All four are one win away from a guaranteed medal.
Jones falls in 3A quarters
Adarios Jones saw his state-title bid end on Friday afternoon.
The Moline 285-pound junior dropped a 5-2 decision to top-ranked Hinsdale Central junior Brian Allen in the Class 3A state quarterfinals at the Assembly Hall. The loss put Jones in the wrestlebacks.
Renowned for his double-leg, Allen used the move to get two first-period takedowns to build a 4-1 lead. Jones stayed close, but could not get any offense.
"We've been working on strategy to stop his double-leg," Jones said. "I let him get two takedowns and that hurt me. ... I know I'll see him next year."
Jones rebounded in his wrestleback first-round bout, earning a 5-3 win over Glenbard East's D'Andre Johnson. One more win today would guarantee Jones a state medal, something no Moline wrestler has earned in 10 years.
"I'm coming with a whole new attitude," Jones said. "Coming out with a medal would mean a lot."