Wayne Trace’s Ruger Goeltzenleuchter (top) grapples with Dominic Rosin during the opening round of the State Wrestling Championships at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Thursday. Goeltzenleuchter won via a 12-1 major decision to advance to Friday’s championship quarterfinals in the 126-pound class. (DHI Media/Deanna Kleman)
Wayne Trace’s Ruger Goeltzenleuchter (top) grapples with Dominic Rosin during the opening round of the State Wrestling Championships at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus on Thursday. Goeltzenleuchter won via a 12-1 major decision to advance to Friday’s championship quarterfinals in the 126-pound class. (DHI Media/Deanna Kleman)
COLUMBUS - One match at a time.

It’s a cliche, but when you are in the 80th annual OHSAA State Wrestling Championships at the Jerome Schottenstein Center, one can’t look ahead of any match.

That was the mindest of St. John’s senior 170-pounder Brett Vonderwell. He had been to State the previous two years but lost his opening match both times and ended up winless. Thursday afternoon, he pinned Johnstown Northridge’s Hunter Corbin in 3:14 to move on to Friday’s championship quarterfinals and lift the proverbial “800-pound gorilla” off his shoulders.

“You just have to take it one match at a time; you have to win that first one to move on. The previous two years, I lost in the opening round and couldn’t stay in, so this lifts a huge burden from me,” Vonderwell (now 42-5) said. “My sophomore year, I was just happy to be down here and last year I was coming off an injury from football and I don’t think anyone was expecting me to get this far.”

This time around, he adopted a more aggressive mindset, and it paid off.

“As a sophomore, I was too passive and last year, too. It was pretty emotional last year for me,” he said. “I wanted to get that first win this year and attacked from the start. I wanted to wrestle my match and not let him wrestle his.”

St. John’s head coach Derek Sterling noticed a different attitude as well.

“His first year, he was just glad to be here and last year was unexpected. This year, it was all business; he didn’t show much emotion at all during the week or today; he was calm and relaxed,” Sterling said. “His approach is that we have a job to do, we have goals we want to accomplish and he took the first step toward that today. We got here earlier today for weigh-ins and after that, we got some food in him and he was good to go.”

He will now wrestle Logan Stanley of Apple Creek Waynedale at approximately 10 a.m. Friday.

Wayne Trace senior 126-pounder Ruger Goeltzenleuchter (43-2) also moved on to the quarterfinals with a 12-1 major decision over Dominic Rosin (Sandusky St. Mary Central Catholic).

“I controlled the match from the start; I did exactly as I wanted to do as far as that game plan. This is my second year at State and it was a lot better this time around,” Goeltzenheuchter said. “There are always nerves but they weren’t too bad this year. Getting that first win in is a relief and gets me one step closer to my goal.”

“It’s important to get that first win here; you don’t want to fight through the consolation,” his coach, George Clemens, said. “It’s crucial to get off quickly; today, he scored the first points 30 seconds into the match and that just puts you in a better frame of mind.”

Next up is Bruce Hrynciw (Oak Harbor).