LITTLE SILVER, N.J. -- Paige Colucci is the only girl in the Williamstown High School wrestling room.
But that’s not the only thing that makes her unique in the sport.
“Sometimes, I’ll tell the guys, ‘Watch her, she’s textbook,’” Williamstown assistant coach Bob Bastien said.
Colucci said she went out for wrestling “100 percent on a whim.”
Now the senior is an undefeated regional champion.
Colucci became the first girls’ wrestling regional champion from a traditional South Jersey school on Sunday, scoring a 26-second pin over Kingsway’s Olivia Heyer in the 147-pound final in the South Regional tournament at Red Bank Regional High School.
She was quickly joined on the top step of the podium by Millville’s unseeded Diana Johnson, who won the 161-pound crown, and Lower Cape May’s Joelle Klein, who captured the 235-pound title.
The top three finishers at each weight class advanced to the state championships March 1-2 at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City.
Johnson, a cheerleader and member of the dance team at Millville who was unseeded because she wrestled mostly boys this season, won her bout in 1 minute, 19 seconds.
“It was fuel,” Johnson said of not being listed as one of the top seeds in her weight class.
Klein, who is undefeated against girls this season, also registered a first-period pin.
Pennsauken’s Anmarie LeBron (100 pounds), Kingsway’s Mia Bruno (111), Delran’s Emma Matera (136) and Pennsauken’s Sarah Mireles (235) took silver along with Kingsway’s Heyer at the first girls’ wrestling regional tournament in New Jersey history.
Colucci has been involved with jiujitsu, a martial art, for the last two years and decided to try out for wrestling after talking with her photography class teacher, Williamstown assistant coach John DeAngelis.
“I just did for fun,” Colucci said. “I never thought I would get this far.”
Colucci has gone 17-0 against other girls. Just two of her matches have gone beyond the first period.
“She has a great work ethic,” Bastien said.
Said DeAngelis: “She’s so coachable. She always wants to improve.”
Colucci said she’s received tremendous support from schoolmates as well as Williamstown teachers.
She said she has been thrilled with her wrestling experience. “I love it,” Colucci said. “It’s really fun and exhilarating. I think everybody should wrestle.
“It gives you confidence on the mat. It gives you confidence in your everyday life.
“As a woman, as a girl, knowing that you can defend yourself is a pretty great feeling."
Colucci hasn’t participated in any other school-sponsored sports at Williamstown. She said she tried soccer as a youngster but not for long.
“I did soccer when I was little but I would just run into people,” Colucci said. “I guess that’s where I found out I was aggressive.”
Colucci said that her background in jiujitsu, as well as her daily workouts against boys in the Williamstown wrestling room, has given her an advantage over other females in the sport.
“I didn’t want to sound cocky but I only train with grown men in jiujitsu and every day I only train with boys so I feel like that really gives me an advantage,” Colucci said.
Colucci and the rest of the wrestlers who advanced on Sunday will find a new experience in Atlantic City.