OSU Swimmers Post Best Conference Finish In Over A Decade

March 2, 2002

LONG BEACH, Calif. - Oregon State capped off its history-setting performance in the Pacific-10 Conference Swimming Championships Saturday by setting three school records en route to a 7th place finish in team competition.

The Beavers' 477 team points is the most points ever scored at the Pac-10 Championships by OSU, which had never broken the 300-point mark. Oregon State finished well ahead of Washington (449.5) and Washington State (401.5), giving the Beavers their highest finish since placing 7th in 1991.

'It is great for our seniors to be able to celebrate by finishing their careers this way,' OSU head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said. 'It has been a goal to move out of 9th place, and to move to 7th ahead of great Washington and Washington State teams is amazing.

'This has been a process that took a few years to develop, but it blossomed this year. We swam against a variety of competitors, faced difficult circumstances and we were challenged every time. We were mentally prepared to be in this type of meet this weekend.'

OSU junior Naya Higashijima broke her own school records in the 1,650-yard (16 minutes, 34.60 seconds) and in the 200 butterfly (1:58.07) in her preliminary heat. Higashijima placed seventh in both of the events. Birte Steven Steven also broke her own school, with sixth place finish time of 2:12.99 in the 200 breaststroke.

Steven and Higashijima have both qualified for the NCAA Swimming Championships, marking the first year that the Beavers qualified two swimmers for the NCAA Championships. That number could possibly increase by next week however. Mari Embertson, Kristin Huston, Suzanne Starkey and two OSU relay teams met NCAA consideration times and the NCAA will announce on Wednesday which of those times qualifies for the national meet.

Oregon State placed well in finals races Saturday, with Kristin Huston finishing 12th in the 100 freestyle, Paula Finlay 10th and Mari Embertson 21st in the 200 breaststroke and Suzanne Starkey 20th and Verena Haas 21st in the 200 butterfly. Haas also placed 21st in the 1,650 freestyle and was followed by Grace Peterson in 25th, Dana Stoddard 32nd and Jillian McMinn in 33rd.

Team results: 1. Stanford, 1,320.5, 2. USC, 1,197.5, 3. Arizona, 1,151.5, 4. California, 1096, 5. UCLA, 1,064, 6. Arizona State, 818.5, 7. Oregon State, 477, 8. Washington, 449.5, 9. Washington State, 401.5.

SATURDAY'S FINAL RESULTS

1,650 FREESTYLE - 1. Jessica Foschi, Stanford, 16:08.46, 7. Naya Higashijima, OSU, 16:34.60, 21, Verena Haas, OSU, 17:10.65, 25. Grace Peterson, OSU, 17:16.71, 32. Dana Stoddard, OSU, 17:53.59, 33. Jillian McMinn, 17:54.76. 200 BACKSTROKE - 1. Natalie Coughlin, Arizona, 1:56.23. 100 FREESTYLE - 1. Sarah Tolar, Arizona, 50.36, 12. Kristin Huston, OSU, 50.98. 200 BREASTROKE - 1. Agnes, Kovacs, ASU, 2:07.75, 6. Birte Steven, OSU, 2:14.79, 10. Paula Finlay, OSU, 2:16.61, 21. Mari Embertson, OSU, 2:19.98. 200 BUTTERFLY - 1. Shelly Ripple, Stanford, 1:53.50, 7. Naya Higashijima, OSU, 2:00.97 (1:58.07 preliminary time), 20. Suzanne Starkey, OSU, 2:05.08 (2:04.54 prelim), 21. Verena Haas, 2:06.61 (2:05.46 prelim). 400 FREESTYLE RELAY - 1. Arizona, 3:17.91, 9. Oregon State A (Huston, Renwick, Starkey, Finlay), 3:28.84, Oregon State B (exhibition) (Chambers, Peterson, Hong, Stoddard), 3:39.61.

Preliminary times (OSU only)

200 BACKSTROKE - 31. Jessie Hong, 2:06.59. 100 FREESTYLE - 35. Bonnie Renwick, 53.14, 41. Stephanie Chambers, 53.62, 43. Jill Personius, 54.27. 200 BREASTSTROKE - Sheila Tehranchi, 2:23.93, Nicole Reynolds, 2:25.17.

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