Kosanovich helps North Allegheny swimmers to impressive season

Thursday, January 24, 2019 | 8:00 PM

Junior transfer Branko Kosanovich has blossomed on the North Allegheny boys swimming team.

Kosanovich ranked second in the boys 100-yard butterfly (50.87 seconds), third in the 100 freestyle (47.10), fifth in the 100 backstroke (52.96) and seventh in the 50 freestyle (21.76) in WPIAL Class AAA as of Jan. 15. He also was among top performers in the 200 freestyle (one minute, 48.94 seconds), 200 individual medley (2:00.55) and 500 freestyle (5:05.81).

He helped the Tigers, the seven-time defending WPIAL champions and two-time reigning PIAA champions, to a spotless record. The Tigers were 6-0 in dual meets, including 3-0 in Section 2-AAA.

Kosanovich moved from a Chicago suburb with his family in August. He said it was tough at first.

“I am a very quiet guy,” he said. “As time went on, I became more comfortable with the new team and started to be myself and became close with a lot of people.

“I set a goal this season to break 50 seconds in the 100 fly and achieved it unexpectedly early in the season. Now, I’m aiming to break 49 seconds.”

Tiger senior captain Jack Wright said Kosanovich is seen as a leader.

“It’s been fun to watch him achieve some of his goals,” said Wright, a Virginia recruit. “We’re all excited to see how fast he’ll go at our championship meets.”

Kosanovich, who is 6-foot-1, hopes to be a factor at the PIAA championship meet in March at Bucknell. Top finishers at the WPIAL championship on Feb. 28-March 1 at Pitt will advance.

Competing against teams from across the state, Kosanovich placed second in the 100 butterfly (51.12) and third in the 100 backstroke (54.26) at the New Year’s Meet Challenge on Jan. 5 at Bucknell. He was part of the 200 medley relay (1:36.55) and 400 freestyle relay (3:10.19) teams that won.

The Tigers placed first of eight. At the All-American High School Invitational on Jan. 11-12 in Wilkes-Barre, he finished second in the 100 butterfly (50.94) and fourth in the 100 freestyle (48.75). He was on the 200 medley relay (1:37.19) and 200 freestyle relay (1:26.69) teams, which won.

The Tigers came in first of six.

Earlier, he competed for the Allegheny North club at the Speedo Winter Junior Championships East in Greensboro, N.C., where he led off the 200 freestyle relay team (1:23.80) that placed 13th.

“I feel like I am in the best shape of my life,” he said. “The training and conditioning I have been doing is much more intense.”

Kosanovich, who is of Serbian descent, qualified for the Illinois High School Association championships as a freshman and sophomore for Elmhurst York.His brother, Marko, is a freshman for the Tigers.

Eli Kosanovich, their father, has roots and relatives in Western Pennsylvania.

“The boys love it here,” Eli Kosanovich said. “We researched and followed Mason (Gonzalez) and the incredible foursome from last year.”

Gonzalez, a Stanford freshman, was part of the 200 freestyle relay (1:19.60) and 400 freestyle relay (2:53.81) teams that ended last season ranked first by the National Interscholastic Coaches Association. He topped the list of the best 100 performances in the country in the 100 freestyle (43.03).

Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.


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