Norwin swimmers ready to cash in at WPIALs |
High School Swimming

Norwin swimmers ready to cash in at WPIALs

William Whalen
Norwin’s Quinn Kubistek competes in the boys’ 500 yard freestyle at Derry Area High School during the 2019 Westmoreland County Coaches Association Swimming Championship Meet on Saturday, January 26, 2019.
Norwin’s Caitlin Kosanovic competes in the girls 100-yard breaststroke during the 2019 Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association swimming championships Saturday, January 26, 2019, at Derry.

All season, first-year Norwin swimming coach Doug Watson told his swimmers they were making money. With each lap, turn and stroke in the pool, the Knights were investing in their future.

“I like to tell them they’re putting money in the bank, and we’re not going to withdraw it until the end of the year, so keep putting money in the bank,” said Watson, who is a 1984 Norwin grad. “To be honest, they’ve come a long way.”

At the moment, four Norwin girls swimmers will be making a withdrawal from the “bank” and heading to Pitt’s Trees Pool for the 2019 WPIAL swimming championships. The two-day meet is scheduled to run from February 28 to March 1.

“We have raw talent,” Watson said. “They need to be pushed, and I don’t think they understand how good they can be because they’re young.”

Of the four girls swimmers who have punched their tickets to Oakland, just one is an upperclassmen: senior Courtney Kosanovic.

Kosanovic reached the WPIAL championships last season. Watson expects her to compete in the 100-yard butterfly and the 200 IM.

Kosanovic finished seventh (1 minute, 20.15 seconds) in the 100 butterfly at last month’s Westmoreland County Coaches’ Association swimming championships.

The rest of the girls swimmers provide a glimpse into the program’s future.

Norwin has 15 freshmen girls on the roster.

Berna Zukina clinched at spot at WPIALs in the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Zukina opened eyes with a third-place finish (54.85) in the 100 freestyle at WCCAs.

Sophomores Jordan Kutchak and Elizabeth Smeltzer round out the qualifiers.

Kutchak will swim the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle, and Smeltzer will compete in the 200 and 500 freestyle.

“I’m pretty pleased,” Watson said. “I’ll be excited to see where we’re at in a couple of weeks.”

There also was quartet of swimmers on the cusp of making cutoff times. Kosanovic (100 breaststroke), junior Allie Plassio (200 freestyle) and freshmen Maya Olshanski (200 freestyle and 500 freestyle) and Vicky Heffelfinger (500 freestyle) gave it one last shot at Franklin Regional’s last-chance meet Feb. 16. Results of the event were past deadline for this edition.

Going into the last-chance meet, no boys swimmer had punched a WPIAL ticket.

“They’re a work in progress, and we have some really good athletes,” Watson said. “They’ve done their best. I’m pleased about it. Nothing was ever expected of them before.”

Junior Austin Livsey (50 and 100 freestyle) and sophomores Seth Baiardi (100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke) and Quinn Kubistek (100 butterfly) were WPIAL hopefuls.

“They’ve really worked hard, and I think that they are within reach,” Watson said. “They just need to stay positive, work hard and believe in themselves. That’s the No. 1 thing.”

William Whalen is a freelance writer.