West Marshall’s obscene message elicits reaction

With its 39-31 dual meet victory over Don Bosco Tuesday night in Gilbertville, the West Marshall wrestling team sent a message to the Dons.

In more ways than one.

In a photograph that appeared on social media in the days following and was acquired Friday by the Times-Republican, 12 members of the ninth-ranked Trojan squad were shown standing with their shirts off in a locker room with letters written on their left arms that spelled out “F— THE DONS!”

West Marshall’s victory in the Class 1A regional dual meet finals over fifth-ranked Don Bosco ended the Dons’ run of eight straight trips to state. The Dons won six consecutive state dual meet titles from 2005-10.

The win for West Marshall clinched the program’s first state duals appearance – at least for the time being.

Multiple sources confirmed that West Marshall school vehicles were seen at Don Bosco High School Friday morning in Gilbertville. KWWL, the NBC television affiliate in Waterloo, reported on its website that the Trojans were there to apologize for their obscene message.

“Don Bosco and us, we worked together to find a way to bring some resolution to the situation and I think both schools are satisfied with how things have worked out,” said West Marshall High School principal Jim Henrich.

Don Bosco High School principal Eric Eckerman told KWWL and The Des Moines Register that the situation was being handled between the schools.

“We both feel it’s a regrettable situation for both of us,” Henrich said, “and we both feel it’s as good as it can be right now.”

Henrich said he was first informed of the obscene message scrawled on the wrestlers’ arms when Eckerman emailed him the photo Wednesday.

“I met with the (West Marshall wrestling) coaches, and we met with the players that afternoon,” Henrich said. “We met again (Thursday).”

Alan Beste, the assistant executive director of the Iowa High School Athletic Association, said on Thursday that the two schools were in the process of “working it out together.”

“The issue did come across my desk but we are letting the schools handle it themselves because it is a school matter,” Beste told the T-R.

Any sanctions West Marshall may face in the final week of the season will apparently have to come from within. In addition to qualifying for Wednesday’s state dual team tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, West Marshall has eight wrestlers slated to try and earn individual state meet berths Saturday at South Hamilton High School in Jewell.

While Henrich refused to recount specifics of the resolution reached with Don Bosco, he said “as far as I know I will be in Jewell (Saturday),” and “as far as I know I will be at state duals.”

“It’s disappointing and embarassing, but I think the kids involved have learned from it and understand their mistake,” Henrich said.

West Marshall head wrestling coach Lonnie Ferguson said on Thursday that the program was “in contact with the state and we are doing everything we can to follow their guidelines.”

Ferguson expected to have a resolution by Friday afternoon.

The incriminating photo was originally posted to Instagram on an account linked to West Marshall junior 170-pounder Devin Chesler, who is among the wrestlers in the picture. The photo has since been removed.

Chesler is ranked seventh in Class 1A and is a district qualifier for the first time after he and now-senior Kyle Blocker missed out on last year’s postseason while serving a four-event suspension for a violation of West Marshall’s student handbook. Blocker, the top-ranked wrestler at 138 pounds, is currently 46-0, boasts a 173-12 career record and was a two-time state placewinner as an underclassman at East Marshall High School.