The rule of thumb is never pose for a picture that could cause you harm if gets out and eight wrestlers from state power Phillipsburg High School are learning the hard way that is certainly the case. 

Phillipsburg High School wrestlers (The Morning Call)

On Monday a day after they beat Southern Regional to win the Group 4 title and complete an undefeated season a controversial picture surfaced.  In the photo seven Phillipsburg wrestlers are apparently simulating the lynching of a black wrestling dummy sporting the tee shirt of arch-rival Paulsboro High School and the singlet of Kittatiny High School, another rival of the Stateliners.

The dummy has a noose around its neck and two of the wrestlers in the picture wore hoods over their heads shaped into a point.

It did not take long for the school to take action once the photo surfaced as they barred the wrestlers from competing in this weekend’s district tournament which is the start of the individual competition that leads to the NJSIAA Championships in Atlantic City.
By doing that the school ended their seasons and last night an attorney for the boys said that was not what the wrestlers were originally told by a school administrator.

Attorney Scott Wilhelm appeared with the eight suspended wrestlers and read a statement in which the young men apologized and said they did not mean to disparage anyone.  They insisted the purpose was to promote school spirit shortly after Phillipsburg beat Paulsboro and to celebrate victories over both their rivals.  As for the dummy being black, it was not meant to have any racial aspect as that’s the dummy they use in practice.

In the statement the boys apologized to their opponents, coaches, family and wrestling crazed community.  They and their lawyer could not take questions because of an on-going investigation.

Monmouth County’s domination of the Shore Conference Girls Basketball Tournament continues but on the boys side we could have an all-Ocean County final for the second straight year and it would be a rematch.  The girl’s quarterfinals tomorrow at Long Branch will feature eight Monmouth County teams including top seeds St. John Vianney and St. Rose.

Meanwhile top-seed Point Beach, defending champion Lakewood and Jackson Memorial have all advanced to the boy’s quarterfinals Sunday at Long Branch.   We will broadcast the semifinals and finals next week on 1160 & 1310AM, part of the Shore Sports Network.