Lexi Mazzella grew up around wrestling.
The junior at Bordentown Regional High School would watch her brother, Sammy, wrestle on the mat during his time as a Bordentown youth wrestler to competing at the high school ranks for the Scotties.
As she watched her brother compete, Mazzella would think to herself that maybe she also could one day be a wrestler.
That day came last season when Mazzella, through the guidance and countless suggestions from her brother, decided to go out for the high school’s girls wrestling squad.
Thinking she wouldn’t like it at first, Mazzella fell in love with wrestling and has blossomed through her hard work on the mat the last two years into one of the top female high school wrestlers in her weight class.
Mazzella made history for Bordentown on April 3 at Williamstown High School, becoming the program’s first female wrestler to qualify for the NJSIAA girls state wrestling championships by placing second in the 135-pound weight class at the South Region Tournament
“I’m honestly very proud of myself,” Mazzella said about qualifying for the state tournament. “I lost in the first round last year. Placing second is a huge accomplishment. It feels great.”
In addition to her stellar performance on the mat, Mazzella has also shined bright on the soccer pitch for the Scotties, leading the girls soccer team in goals scored the last three seasons.
Mazzella has racked up 46 total goals in that three-year span, scoring 12 goals during this past shortened COVID-19 season to help Bordentown finish with a record of 7-6-1.
All her success from the pitch to the mat during her time at Bordentown comes from the hard work she puts in all year round, she said.
“It shows in matches and games how much work you put in,” Mazzella said. “Working out a lot on your own and working hard in practice means a lot.”
When Mazzella joined the wrestling team last season, she was taken under the wing of senior Arianna Menna, who was one of the first girls to join the program a year prior when girls wrestling became an NJSIAA sanctioned sport.
Mazzella said that Menna was like a big sister to her on the mat, helping her get better each and every day.
Menna placed fourth at the region tournament during both her junior and senior seasons for Bordentown, coming up one spot short of qualifying for the state tournament.
A catalyst in helping recruit more girls to join the wrestling program, Coach Jimmy Gill said Menna’s success on the mat helped “open doors” for female wrestlers on the Bordentown-Florence co-op team to be successful.
He added that Mazzella has continued to “open more doors” by qualifying for the state tournament.
Gill has been very impressed by Mazzella’s approach in learning the sport of wrestling the last two years and feels that has helped her pick things up quickly on the mat.
“She’s a great listener,” Gill said of Mazzella. “She takes everything in. It helps her pick things up on the mat and she can then use her athleticism to help her out more.”
Mazzella recorded an individual mark of 11-5 last year and won the South Jersey Wrestling Hall of Fame Tournament at 128 pounds.
With the top four finishers in each weight class at regions advancing to the state tournament this season, Mazzella was determined to get a top-four placement to become a state qualifier.
The junior punched her ticket to the state tournament by pinning Maya McCabe of Mainland Regional High School in the quarterfinals and then pulled off a thrilling 6-4 overtime decision over Palmyra High School’s Danica Haines during her semifinal bout.
Now as she prepares to go up against the best of the best at the state tournament that will be held on April 10 in Phillipsburg, Mazzella is looking forward to experiencing the bright lights of the state championships and wants to make a nice run in her bracket.
“I’m hoping to get more experience on the mat and go as far as I can go,” Mazzella said. “I’m so excited for this weekend.”