Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wrestling: Seven P'burg wrestlers scratched from D1 (updated)

Seven Phillipsburg High School wrestlers were scratched from the District 1 Tournament during Wednesday night's seeding meeting in Phillipsburg.

District champions Jimmy Schuitema and Broderick Bupivi, were removed at 145 and 160 pounds respectively, while sophomores Tyler Agans (113) and DJ Wissing (120), junior Tim Hinkle (182), freshman Drew Horun (220) and senior Tylor Petchonka (126) also were lifted during the process. No replacements were entered at those weights.

Principal Greg Troxell, who served as the seedmaster, said he could not comment on why the wrestlers would not participate in the tournament and asked all of the coaches to, "Respect the matter as [the school administration] is dealing with it."

This latest development comes in the wake of a photo that surfaced earlier this week showing seven P'burg wrestlers, who have not been identified publicly, posing with a wrestling dummy, clad with a Paulsboro wrestling shirt and a Kittatinny singlet, that was hanging by a rope around its neck. Two of the boys were wearing sweatshirts with pointed hoods. Phillipsburg officials issued a statement on Monday saying the matter was under investigation.

Phillipsburg is seeking a 42nd district team championship. The tournament is set to begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday at The Pit. The Stateliners were coming off one of the greatest days in program history with Sunday's 32-21 win over Southern in the Group 4 final -- capping the historic program's first unbeaten season in 44 years.

This incident has created a firestorm as an Action News (Channel 6 in Philadelphia) van was parked alongside the school on Wednesday evening. The story also has been broadcast on several national networks the last few evenings.

It remains to be seen whether P'burg or the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, which implemented a strict code of behavior conduct for the 2013-14 school year, will impose any further punishment. The tournament, as of late Wednesday evening, was still slated to be held at P'burg.

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