North Allegheny boys chasing 3rd straight PIAA swimming championship

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Tuesday, March 5, 2019 | 1:30 AM


Led by four top seeds, the North Allegheny boys swimming team is a serious contender for its third consecutive PIAA Class AAA title March 15-16 at Bucknell.

Defending champions senior Jack Wright, 200-yard freestyle (1 minute, 37.48 seconds), junior Rick Mihm, 500 freestyle (4:29.29), and the 200 medley relay (1:31) and 200 freestyle relay teams (1:22.92) head events.

Mihm ranks second in the 200 individual medley (1:48.15), which he won last season.

The Tigers roared to their eighth straight WPIAL crown Feb. 28-March 1 at Pitt, placing swimmers in the top eight in every event. Wright (200 freestyle) and Mihm (200 individual medley) broke meet records.

“We set ourselves up really well at our district meet,” said Wright, a Virginia recruit. “We’re all excited to get out and race at Bucknell.”

Other medal contenders are junior Branko Kosanovich, fifth seed, 100 butterfly (49.60); senior Anatole Borisov, seventh, 100 butterfly (50.18); Wright, fourth, 100 freestyle (44.66); senior John Ehling, fifth, 500 freestyle (4:33.11); senior Jerry Chen, third, 100 breaststroke (56.94); and the 400 freestyle relay team, third (3:05.37).

Junior Joshua Galecki, junior Ethan Song, senior Joel Songer and sophomores Timothy Compton and Jacob McCarran are seeded.

“This is what we’ve been training for all season,” Kosanovich said. “None of us will be satisfied with just a WPIAL championship.

“We have a (really) talented team again. We’re looking to complete the three-peat.”

Kosanovich, who moved from a Chicago suburb with his family in August, enjoyed his first WPIAL championship meet.

“(It) was a very high-energy meet,” Kosanovich said. “If I had to compare (it) to a meet in Illinois, I would have to say (it would be) the high school state meet.

“I’m excited to compete against the whole state (of Pennsylvania).”

On the girls side, the Tigers have one top seed after winning their 11th straight WPIAL crown.

Junior Victoria Buerger (54.31) ranks first in the 100 butterfly.

Sophomore Molly Smyers, third, 500 freestyle (4:58.72) and seventh, 200 freestyle (1:51.42); Buerger, sixth, 200 individual medley (2:03); the 200 medley relay team, fourth (1:44.26); and the 400 freestyle relay team, fifth (3:29.10), also have shots at the podium.

Smyers was WPIAL champion in the 200 and 500 freestyle.

Other seeded competitors include sophomore Olivia Kisow, sophomore Quinn Frost, senior Lila McGrath and junior Olivia Kraus.

“Every year, we lose valuable members, but we have others (who) are ready to step in,” Buerger said. “This victory was one of the sweetest since we all came together to win for each other and our coaches.

“We are going to swim for each other at the state meet, as well.”

Sophomore Maya Ennis, the WPIAL runner-up, believes she has nothing to lose in 1-meter diving, where she is seeded 10th (433.15 points).

“As a sophomore, she has the luxury of time,” North Allegheny diving coach Patti McClure said. “She’s going to start with her strong dives to be sure to make finals, then have fun with the last three dives.”

The North Allegheny girls team placed ninth at the PIAA championship last season.

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