A disturbing story is coming out of a New Jersey high school where wrestlers depicted a horrible act in a photograph and then uploaded it online. Eight members of an unbeaten Phillipsburg high school wrestling team have been suspended after a photo surfaced showing team members posing with a wrestling mannequin hanging from a noose. The wrestling dummy is of a dark leather on hanging by the neck wearing the t-shirt of a rival high school, Paulsboro. The wrestlers’ attorney Scott Wilhelm claims that the pic was “spontaneous” and there was no racial motivation for the insensitive gesture. That being said, two of the boys wore their hoods, one white, purposely pointed up, which sadly resembles a Ku Klux Klan hood as well as another wrestler with a paddle. It also does not bode well that Phillipsburg is a community of 15,000 with about 85 percent of the population is white. Meanwhile Paulsboro, the same as the t-shirt on the lynched dummy, has about 6,000 residents, with more than one-third of them black. New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association officials sent the photo to the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights after they discovered it.
On Thursday Phillipsburg High School Principal Greg Troxell announced that the wrestlers would not compete in the district tournament scheduled for Friday and Saturday. The wrestlers who were banned from the District 1 tournament are: Tyler Agans (113 pounds), D.J. Wissing (120), Tylor Petchonka (126), Jimmy Schuitema (145), Broderick Bupivi (160), Tim Hinkle (182) and Andrew Horun (220).
In a press conference on Thursday night the attorney read a statement for the wrestlers that said, “We apologize. We didn’t intend to disparage anyone.”