The Conestoga Valley team bus was late pulling out of Witmer, then took a less-than-optimal route, traffic-wise, to get to Cocalico.
The night went downhill from there for the Buckskins.
Tending to a lead that had shrunk from 13-0 to 13-12, Cocalico swept the last seven matches — five falls, a forfeit and a major decision — to secure a 53-12 victory in the L-L League opener for both squads, Wednesday night in Denver.
“We’re a younger team than people might realize, in terms of experience and age-wise,” said Bucks coach Trent Turner.
“We have to develop a belief in ourselves, that we can compete at a higher level. We were in positions to score and weren’t finishing. That’s our work in progress.”
Meanwhile, with 12 returning vets starting for the Eagles (1-0 league, 1-0 overall) the match opened with Kayde Althouse’s fall at 120, Josiah Gehr’s major at 126 and Grant Swann’s decision at 132.
The Buckskins (0-1, 2-2) rallied as Seth Martin brokered a 3-2 victory over Trevor Hale at 138 and Austin Rider rallied from 3-1 down to take Seamus Finnegan down into a fall — in 3:11 — at 145.
Taylor Sheaffer’s 5-point reversal in the late stages at 152 broke open what had been a back-and-forth with Alex May, delivering a 10-7 win and pulling the Bucks to 13-12.
At 160, Devon Sensenig executed a snap back to a cradle, pinning Conrad Dillman in 1:37 to blunt the Bucks’ rally.
Then unbeaten junior Josh MacNamara (3-0) stepped in against Eagles’ senior Owen Zimmerman (0-2), making just his third-ever varsity start having stepped away from the sport for two years.
The rust showed as, after a scoreless first period, Zimmerman was called for locked hands twice.
“Rusty,” Zimmerman agreed. “I’m still getting back into it.”
Needing to avoid further violations, Zimmerman let MacNamara out, then got back into the match scoring a takedown.
His power half delivered two backpoints, and a 4-3 lead after two periods.
A lead he stretched when, up 5-3, he fought off a great double leg shot by MacNamara, then took MacNamara down into a cradle for a 9-3 lead with a minute left.
“He had his head down,” Zimmerman said, “and his leg was right there. So, I locked it (the cradle).”
He let MacNamara out and, late in the going, parried a desperation shot into a 5-point move and a 14-4 victory.
“Owen hasn’t wrestled since junior high, and he goes out and beats a tough kid,” Eagles coach Matt Fittery said.
“Man, I wish he’d wrestled since he was a sophomore, but he’s going to help us.”
In short order, Ben Sola and Ben Fromm sandwiched Derek Sauder’s forfeit win with falls.
Joe Bearinger followed suit at 285 and, with no contest at 106, Seth Fritz scored the final fall of the night at 113.
“Start to finish, we wrestled tough,” Fittery said. “Even the guys that lost. I’m happy with the effort, win or lose.”