Western New Jersey

Wrestling tournament held, minus Phillipsburg wrestlers in controversial photo

Wrestlers banned from tournament

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Eight high school wrestlers in New Jersey have been the target of public scrutiny after posing in a controversial photo. On Saturday, all of those wrestlers sat out as their teammates hit the mats for a tournament.

After serving a three-day school suspension, the wrestlers were banned from competing or attending this weekend's State Individual Tournament.

On Friday, The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association sent a letter to the teens, banning them from even being a spectator at the District One Tournament.

Scott Wilhlem, the attorney representing the wrestlers, said, "At that point, it is pretty much too late to salvage any type of wrestling season for them."

Investigators are looking into the controversial photo to see if any laws were broken.

Wilhelm says criminal charges aren't warranted. He claims the photo served as a commentary on recent victories over Paulsboro High and Kittatiny High.

Officials from both these high schools were quick to the accept the apology of the Phillipsburg wrestlers, and Paulsboro Superintendent Dr. Walter Quint says that should be lesson number one.

"It's a good teaching tool--how we treat our peers when they make a mistake," Quint said.

Lesson two is human rights, according to Quint.

"It gives an opportunity to talk through that image and what does it represent," Quint said. "To teach and have the students relearn about the history of our country about human rights, equal rights, equality."

And a lasting reminder, that in a world of cell phones and social media, not everything should be shared, according to Quint.

"Let's review the smart use of electronic media, and let's remind students of the things we do and don't do when we post things and the consequences," Quint said.

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