On Saturday the Buccaneers continued their success and won the Academy Park Wrestling Classic. The Bucs finished with 164 points; Strath Haven was second with 161.
"Last year, we finished ninth out of eight teams," joked junior John Gavis, who won the 135-pound title with a 13-2 match over North Catholic's Jim Miller and improved to 9-6 for the season. "We stunk up the place last year."
Gavis couldn't wrestle last season because he had to have surgery on his left knee.
"That's what makes this so special . . . plus the fact that I started out at 0-3 this season," Gavis said.
"This is great," said senior Jim O'Shea, who improved to 12-4 when he took the 130-pound championship with a pin, at 2:52, over Garnet Valley's Tom Glisson. "To go 13 years without winning a tournament and then win one in my senior year is a great feeling."
Strath Haven received titles from Kevin Kochersperger (103), Chadd Stevens (119), Dan Yohey (125), Erik Hollingsworth (152) and Ed Stassen (160), but it wasn't enough to catch the streaking Bucs.
The Panthers headed into the final match, between heavyweight Andy Johnson and Academy Park's Damian Pierce, needing just a decision from Johnson.
It looked good as the match progressed, with Johnson giving Pierce everything he had. But Pierce caught Johnson with a quick move and pinned the Panthers heavyweight.
"A lot of things have to go right for your team to win a tournament," said Panthers coach Tim Styer. "It wasn't Andy's fault that we didn't win the tourney. Everyone contributes to a win or a loss."
The Panthers did achieve their pre-match goals of having six wrestlers reach the finals. Styer said he would have been thrilled with four titles, but his squad came away with five.
"We're still a growing program and this is a good step for us," Styer said. "It was a positive showing for the whole team."
Bailey, who wrestled at Chester in the mid-'70s and runs the Screaming Eagles Wrestling Club in adddition to the Bucs, is convinced that his team will get even better.
"We haven't even peaked yet this season," he said.