Four Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln High School wrestlers — including a University of Wisconsin recruit — are scheduled to go to trial on disorderly conduct charges March 5, which may prevent them from competing at the 2012 Wisconsin state championships.
Last week, the trial date was set for immediately after the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association state wrestling team tournament, slated for March 2 and 3. However, defendants must be present during jury selection, which is scheduled for March 2. It remains unclear whether the wrestlers will be able to compete in the tournament, according to the Wausau Daily Herald.
The issue is hardly hypothetical. The Lincoln wrestling program is the defending Wisconsin state team champions; the team has been listed in InterMat’s Fab 50 national team rankings.
The judge and defense lawyers all say the scheduling of the trial after the state tourney is a coincidence. The March trial dates were the first available week that fit the schedules of Wood County Circuit Judge Greg Potter and all the attorneys in the case.
The case involves four Lincoln wrestlers — Zachary S. Benitz, Devin L. Peterson, Kasey D. Einerson, and Rylan L. Lubeck, all now 18 — who have been charged with disorderly conduct. According to the criminal complaint, the four defendants allegedly danced naked around a 15-year-old teammate, touching him with their genitals in a school locker room.
If convicted, each of the defendants faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. The four entered not guilty pleas in late June.
Peterson, who is now a senior at Lincoln, has made a verbal commitment to wrestle for the Wisconsin Badgers in 2012.
The case has implications for the entire Lincoln wrestling program; the team will not be allowed to participate in two national high school mat tournaments this season.
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