• February 25, 2021

HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING: Niemann sets pace for Permian at 2-6A meet - Odessa American: Boys

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HIGH SCHOOL SWIMMING: Niemann sets pace for Permian at 2-6A meet

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Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 7:46 pm

MIDLAND Permian swimmer Makaleigh Niemann wanted to make the most of her final opportunity to compete in the District 2-6A Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday at COM Aquatics Center.

Niemann did that and helped some of her teammates keep their seasons going in the process.

The senior finished fourth in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races and swam the anchor leg in the 200- and 400-freestyle relays to help those teams qualify for the Region I-6A Championships set for Feb. 4-6 at the Debbie Weems Natatorium in Mansfield.

It is the first time that Niemann has qualified for regionals in the individual races.

“I felt really good with my 200 today,” Niemann said. “I was seeded fourth and really planning on making that but I really surprised myself this year.”

It was especially satisfying for Niemann for two reasons:

>> She had finished seventh in the same events in her sophomore and junior years and there were fewer spots available to qualify this time.

>> Only the top four individuals and relay teams qualified for the regional meet as opposed to the usual six due to COVID-19 protocols set in place by the UIL.

Add in the fact that her teammates are going to join her in Mansfield and Thursday turned into a good day for the season.

“I just feel united with my team while also feeling happy and excited,” she added.

The Permian girls also qualified for the regional meet in the 200 medley relay while the Permian boys also qualified in the 200 freestyle relay.

Permian head coach Rob Rankin said that this year was different due to fewer meets and not being able to see the competition as much prior to district.

“I think we competed about as well as we expected to,” Rankin said. “We do have some seniors that are a little disappointed that they didn’t get to go though even though they were in the top six. But we do have five relays that are going and so we’re just going to get to work.”

Odessa High was able to get a relay team qualified in the boys 400-yard freestyle relay.

For head coach Lorenzo Masonsong, the district meet proved to be an encouraging step forward for his team.

“I see we have a lot of potential for growth,” Masonsong said. “We only lose one senior this year so I’m pretty happy about that.

“A lot of kids got to experience what a championship swim meet is like and I can’t wait for next season.”

The Midland High girls were the district champions for the third time in the last four years followed by San Angelo Central, Midland Lee, Permian and Odessa High.

Midland High junior P.J. Day was named Girls Swimmer of the Meet after winning individual titles in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke while also helping her team win the 200 medley and 200 freestyle relays.

“Our team knew that they had to perform and there was no backing off,” Midland ISD head swim and dive coach Steve Flato said. “From the first part of the relays on, they just started rolling with it. Top four is tough and I can’t be prouder of them.”

The Central boys team earned its 11th straight district title ahead of Midland High and Midland Lee with Permian and Odessa High finishing fifth and sixth, respectively.

Midland High senior and UTPB signee Legend Jankowski was named the Boys Swimmer of the Meet with titles in the boys 200-yard IM and setting a new district record in the 500 free with a winning time of 4 minutes, 41.98 seconds. That beat the previous record of 4:44.26 set by Midland High’s Kyle Edens back in 2003.

“I felt pretty great about today,” Jankowski said. “Being able to break a pool record and district record feels great. I can’t wait for regionals.”

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