OSU Hits The Water At Pac-10 Women's Swimming Championships

Feb. 19, 2001

CORVALLIS, Ore. - -

Oregon State at Pacific-10 Championships, Feb. 22-24, all day

The dual meet season is over, and now the true test of the swim season is upon the Beavers as the Oregon State women's squad travels to Federal Way, Wash., for the Pacific-10 Championships Feb. 22-24.

The Beavers have improved at the Pac-10s every year under fifth-year head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny, but have yet to finish better than ninth place. This could be the year OSU overtakes one of the Northwest schools and begins to move up in the final standings.

The Pac-10 is, from top-to-bottom, the toughest conference in the Nation, rivaled only perhaps by the Southeastern Conference. Arizona (No. 2), Stanford (3), California (4), USC (8), and UCLA (10) are all ranked in the top-10 in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll, and Arizona State is ranked 17th. The remaining three Pac-10 schools have closed the gap considerably over the past several years, setting up a showcase weekend for some of the nation's elite programs.

OSU's main focus is not to move up in the final conference standings, but for each swimmer to perform to the best of her capabilities.

'Going into Pac-10s, we do have some team goals,' Podkoscielny said. 'Those are important, but the most important thing is that all the swimmers swim to their potential. If we do that, everything else will take care of itself. We would like to finish higher than we've finished in the past - which is ninth - but at the same time, all three Pac-10 North schools (Oregon State, Washington, and Washington State) are closing in on the rest of the Pac-10 Conference. All three schools have improved tremendously in the last four or five years.

'If the girls do what they're capable of doing, I'm confident that we're going to have a great meet and come out of it with the best result we've ever had (under Podkoscielny).'

Birte Steven, a freshman, has already qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke with times of 1:02.45 and 2:14.43, respectively.

Sophomores Naya Higashijima and Paula Finlay are the other OSU swimmers with perhaps the best shot at qualifying for the NCAAs.

'We have high hopes for Naya and Paula to make it to the NCAAs, which would be a tremendous accomplishment,' Podkoscielny said. 'It's great that we already have one swimmer going, but you always want more, and I know we have swimmers on this team that are capable of getting there. It's going to be three days of improtant swimming coming up.'

OSU has broken school records 15 times this season, and was within three race wins of a 10-2 dual meet record record.

'It's been a great season so far,' Podkoscielny commented. 'I'm the most confident I've ever been going into Pac-10s about the quality of the athletes and the job they've done. I'm very excited about where they are at this point going into Pac-10s.'

HEAD COACH MARIUSZ PODKOSCIELNY: Mariusz Podkoscielny is in his fifth season as head coach at Oregon State. In his first five years, OSU has a dual meet record of 21-30 overall and 2-14 in the Pacific-10, including 7-5 overall this year and 0-3 in the Pac-10. Podkoscielny, 32, is a 9-time All-American and 2-time Olympian.

Prior to coming to OSU in the fall of 1996, Podkoscielny had been an assistant men's and women's coach at Arizona since 1993.

A native of Gdansk, Poland, Podkoscielny was a member of the Arizona swim team from 1988-92 and was one of the fastest distance swimmers in UA history. He was also on the Polish National Team from 1980-92 and competed in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.

OSU AT THE PAC-10s: The Beavers have finished ninth in the nine-team event for the past four years, before which they finished eighth in 1995 and 1996.

At last year's championship, Paula Finlay became just the second Oregon State swimmer to compete in the finals at the Pac-10s, as she set what was at the time a school record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:04.39 (Birte Steven now owns that record with a 1:02.45).

The Beavers were in eighth place after the first day, but wound up just 30.5 points behind Washington State in ninth.

The Pac-10 is arguably the toughest conference in the nation from top to bottom, as evidenced by the fact that five Pac-10 schools are ranked in the top 10 nationally. Arizona is ranked No. 2, Stanford No. 3, California No. 4, UCLA No. 6, USC No. 10 and Arizona State No. 17.

The highest OSU placed at Pac-10s was seventh, in 1991. OSU placed second at the Northwest Regionals three times, most recently in 1983.

BEAVER SENIORS LEAD THE WAY: The five seniors on this year's squad - Arianna Higuera, Amy Imwalle, Erin Buckley, Kristen Severance, and Melissa Hsieh - hold 18 of the spots on OSU's top-10 performers list, 63 of which are held by current squad members. Higuera has five, Imwalle four, and Buckley, Hsieh and Severance three each.

STEVEN QUALIFIES FOR NCAAs: Freshman Birte Steven has qualified with provisional times for the NCAA Championships in the 100- and 200 yard breaststrokes. Steven's time of 1:02.45 in the 100 breaststroke is well within the standard range for qualification on a 25-yard course, as is her time of 2:14.43 in the 200 breaststroke.

Steven is the second swimmer in Oregon State history to qualify for the NCAAs. Amy van Loben Sels qualified twice for the NCAAs, in 1994 and 1995 as a sprint freestyler. van Loben Sels competed in the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials and placed 11th in the 50 freestyle.

Steven wasted no time in adding her own chapters to the OSU recordbooks, as she has set school standards eight times this season, with records in the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke, as well as the 400 individual medley. She also was a member of the OSU record-setting teams in the 200 and 400 medley relays.

OSU WINS SEVEN DUALS: For the second season in a row, the Beavers won seven dual meets. Prior to the 2000 campaign, OSU had not won seven duals since 1991, nor had they enjoyed a winning season since the same year.

SOPHOMORE REWRITING THE RECORDBOOKS: Sophomore Naya Higashijima owns four of the 14 individual school records, and has broken school marks three times this season. Here's a look: 500 freestyle, 4:54.99, 1,000 freestyle, 10:14.96, 1,650 freestyle: 16:55.87, 200 butterfly, 2:01.43.

OSU VS. WASHINGTON STATE: The Beavers dropped two hard-fought duals against Washington State on Feb. 2 and 3, falling 138-124 on Friday and 113-92 on Saturday. Both meets came down to the final race.

Naya Higashijima won six events over the weekend.

TICKETS FOR PAC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: Tickets for the Pac-10 Women's Swimming Championships are available at the meet or in advance from the Washington State University Ticket Office in Pullman, Wash. at (520) 335-9626, or 1-800-GO-COUGS option #3. A three-day adult pass is $20, a three-day child/student/senior citizen pass is $10. Single-day tickets are available at $8 for adults and $4 for a child/student/senior citizen.

STEVENS NATATORIUM: For the second season in a row, Oregon State scheduled all its home swim meets on campus as the Beavers moved into Stevens Natatorium in the 1999-2000 season. OSU had a 2-2 dual meet record at home this year, and went 3-1 last season.

Stevens Natatorium is adjacent to Dixon Recreation Center, near Gill Coliseum. The pool opened in 1994 but was not outfitted for competition until prior to the 1999-2000 season.

OSU had scheduled its home meets at Corvallis' Osborn Aquatic Center since the community pool opened for the 1979-80 season. A few meets were still held on campus at Langton Pool.

OREGON STATE SCHOOL RECORDS: Oregon State has set school records 15 times this season. Here's a look at the records that have been set - eight of which have been posted by freshman Birte Steven:

1,000 freestyle 	Naya Higashijima 10:16.57, Oct. 21 at San Jose State100 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 1:03.23, Oct. 21 at San Jose State200 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 2:17.29, Oct. 21 at San Jose State100 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 1:03.22, Nov. 11 vs. Nevada400 medley relay	Starkey, Steven, Renwick, Higuera, 3:49.01,	Nov. 30 at Speedo Cup200 medley relay	Starkey, Steven, Renwick, Higuera, 1:44.90,	Dec. 1 at Speedo Cup100 butterfly   	Bonnie Renwick, 57.04, Dec. 1 at Speedo Cup100 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 1:02.67, Dec. 1 at Speedo Cup100 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 1:02.45, Dec. 1 at Speedo Cup400 individual medley	Birte Steven, 4:27.99, Dec. 1 at Speedo Cup100 backstroke  	Suzanne Starkey, 57.15, Dec. 1 at Speedo Cup200 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 2:15.55, Dec. 2 at Speedo Cup200 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 2:14.43, Dec. 2 at Speedo Cup200 butterfly   	Naya Higashijima, 2:01.43, Dec. 2 at Speedo Cup1,000 freestyle 	Naya Higashijima, 10:14.96, Jan. 13 at Washington

OREGON STATE EVENT WINNERS: In the dual meet season, Birte Steven and Naya Higashijima led the Beavers with 24 wins. A look at this season's winners (not including relay events):(Wins while swimming as an exhibtion entry are inparentheses, those wins are not included in total)

1. Birte Steven 	(1) **242. Naya Higashijima	(2) 243. Paula Finlay  	134. Arianna Higuera	85. Suzanne Starkey	56. Erin Buckley 	1tie. Bonnie Renwick	(1) 2tie. Jill McMinn	1tie. Jessica Randleman	(1)*- represents a win at the Speedo Cup, Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

BEAVERS' PLACES ON SCHOOL TOP-10 LISTS: The 2000-2001 Oregon State team holds 63 of the 140 places on the list of top-10 performers in each event. Current OSU squad members hold 10 of the 14 individual school records, including four by Higashijima. Steven holds three, while Renwick, Finlay, and Starkey have one apiece. Of the 63 places, 25 came this year.

Here are the members of the 2000-2001 OSU squad with the most entries on the school's all-time leaders list:

1. Naya Higashijima 	7 (200 free, 500 free, 1,000 free, 1,650 free, 		100 fly, 200 fly)2. Paula Finlay 	6 (200 free, 200 back, 100 breast, 200 		breast, 200 IM, 400 IM)3. Arianna Higuera	5 (50 free, 100 free, 200 free, 100 fly, 200 		IM)tie. Bonnie Renwick	5 (50 free, 100 free, 100 back, 100 fly, 200 		IM)tie. Suzanne Starkey	5 (50 free, 100 free, 100 back, 200 back, 100 		fly)5. Sarah Cohen	        4 (100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM, 400 IM)tie. Amy Imwalle	4 (200 free, 500 free, 1,000 free,1,650 free)tie. Birte Steven	4 (100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM, 400 IM)

WHERE THE BEAVERS RANK ON SCHOOL LISTS: Here are OSU's school records and where members of the 2000-2001 Beavers (listed in bold type) rank on the school's top-10 lists through Feb. 14:

50 FREESTYLE1. Amy van Loben Sels	23.11	19944. Arianna Higuera	23.99	20016. Suzanne Starkey	24.32	20017. Bonnie Renwick	24.36	200110. Erin Buckley	24.57	1998100 FREESTYLE1. Amy van Loben Sels	50.64	19954. Arianna Higuera	52.11	20016. Suzanne Starkey	52.56	20018. Bonnie Renwick	53.19	200010. Trista Hedlind	53.25	2000200 FREESTYLE1. Traci Lamoure	1:50.91	19983. Naya Higashijima	1:52.89	20004. Melissa Hsieh	1:54.28	19985. Arianna Higuera	1:54.57	20007. Paula Finlay 	1:54.99	20008. Amy Imwalle  	1:55.12	19999. Erin Buckley 	1:55.19	199810. Trista Hedlind	1:55.52	2000500 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	4:54.99	20006. Amy Imwalle  	5:06.95	19999. Jill Personius	5:10.63	20001,000 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	10:14.96	20014. Jill McMinn  	10:38.50	20005. Amy Imwalle  	10:43.96	19996. Dana Stoddard	10:44.56	19991,650 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	16:55.87	20004. Amy Imwalle  	17:28.21	19995. Dana Stoddard	17:35.08	19997. Jill Personius	17:45.61	20018. Jill McMinn  	17:51.30	2000100 BACKSTROKE1. Suzanne Starkey	57.15	20017. Bonnie Renwick	59.73	20019. Erin Buckley 	1:00.50	2001200 BACKSTROKE1. Christy Ryerson	2:03.41	19944. Paula Finlay 	2:05.45	20015. Suzanne Starkey	2:05.93	2001100 BUTTERFLY1. Bonnie Renwick	57.04	20012. Naya Higashijima	57.17	20013. Kristin Martinec	57.20	19994. Suzanne Starkey	58.00	20015. Melissa Hsieh	58.03	199810. Arianna Higuera	59.31	1999200 BUTTERFLY1. Naya Higashijima	2:01.43	20013. Melissa Hsieh	2:07.67	19985. Kristin Martinec	2:09.34	199910. Jill McMinn 	2:11.28	2000100 BREASTSTROKE1. Birte Steven 	1:02.45	20012. Paula Finlay 	1:04.39	20003. Kristen Severance	1:05.94	20015. Sheila Tehranchi	1:06.97	20019. Sarah Cohen  	1:07.81	1999200 BREASTSTROKE1. Birte Steven 	2:14.43	20013. Paula Finlay 	2:21.23	20004. Sarah Cohen  	2:21.70	19995. Kristen Severance	2:22.78	20006. Sheila Tehranchi	2:23.67	2001200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY1. Paula Finlay 	2:05.46	20002. Birte Steven 	2:05.84	20014. Arianna Higuera	2:08.10	19997. Kristen Severance	2:09.76	20018. Sarah  Cohen 	2:10.96	19999. Bonnie Renwick	2:11.20	2000400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY1. Birte Steven 	4:27.99	20013. Paula Finlay 	4:28.30	20015. Sarah Cohen  	4:34.82	19998. Naya Higashijima	4:35.85	200010. Sheila Tehranchi	4:41.33	1999

NOTE: This list complete through Feb. 14

BEAVER SPORTS INFORMATION: Oregon State women's swimming sports information director Travis Lahman can be reached at (541) 737-3720.

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