Oregon State Heads For A Familiar Pool At Pacific-10 Championships

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Feb. 25, 2003



Oregon State at Pacific-10 Championships; Federal Way, Wash.; all day

After nearly three weeks of preparation, Oregon State returns to action Thursday morning as the 2003 Pacific-10 Women's Swimming and Diving Championships get underway at the Weyerhauser King County Aquatic Center.

The Beavers are familiar with the venue, having competed at the Federal Way, Wash. pool Dec. 5-8 in the Husky Invitational. OSU set 13 school records in 10 events those four days.

'It was a good experience for our entire team, but especially the freshmen,' OSU head coach Marisuz Podkoscielny said of competing in the Husky Invitational. 'Most of them had never competed at that pool and our freshmen had never been exposed to that type of college swimming atmosphere. It definitely gives us familiarity with the facility and the structure of the meet.

'We were able to experiment at the Husky Invitational, but this weekend there is going to be a lot more competition. We've got to be hitting on all cylinders if we want to make finals swims.'

The Beavers made a number of finals swims last season, when they matched their best-ever finish at the Pac-10 meet by placing seventh. This year, OSU is also looking toward another postseason meet.

Birte Steven and Naya Higashijima, both of whom already have times that have qualified them for the NCAA Championships in late March, aren't cutting back on their workouts with an eye on being rested to post great times at the Pac-10 meet.

'Some schools rest their swimmers that have already qualified, and some don't,' Podkoscielny said. 'Naya and Birte are directing more of their focus on the NCAAs.'

Preliminary races will occur in morning sessions that begin at 11 a.m. each day, with event finals scheduled for the evening sessions at 6 p.m.

'A few good, early swims will create some excitement and help everyone's confidence,' Podkoscielny said. 'A good start is crucial to build up momentum.'

Diving competitions will be held for the six schools that field diving programs. Oregon State, Washington and Washington State do not have diving teams.

OREGON STATE AT THE PAC-10 CHAMPIONSIHPS: Oregon State finished seventh at the 2002 Pacific-10 Championships as the Beavers set a school record with 477 team points. Oregon State was the highest-placing team without a diving squad in last year's Pac-10 meet; diving points count toward the team standings. Prior to last year, OSU had never eclipsed the 300-point mark. The seventh-place finish matched the Beavers' best-ever in the meet; they'd also placed seventh in 1991. OSU teams have finished eighth five times and ninth nine times since joining the Pac-10 for swimming for the 1986-87 season.

Stanford won last season's Pacific-10 Swimming and Diving Championships at Long Beach, Calif., with 1,320 points. A look at last year's final standings:

1. Stanford, 1,3202. Southern California 1,197.53. Arizona 1,1514. California 1,0965. UCLA 1,0646. Arizona State 818.57. Oregon State 4778. Washington 449.59. Washington State 401.5

OSU FALLS TO WASHINGTON: Oregon State dropped its final dual meet of the season to No. 24 Washington 147-111 Feb. 8 at Husky Pool in Seattle.

Birte Steven won the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes and Naya Higashijima placed first in the 200 butterfly for the Beavers, who finished the regular season with a 12-3 overall dual meet record. The Huskies (11-0) swam to first place in 10 of the 14 events.

Paula Finlay finished second to Steven in both breaststroke events and Higashijima had second-place finishes in the 1,000 and 500 freestyles. Ausra Pacebutaite took second in the 200 backstroke, as did Suzanne Starkey in the 100 butterfly.

'Our breaststrokers were very solid,' Podkoscielny said. 'I was proud of how we raced hard throughout the meet and took on the challenges in a very hostile environment.'

HEAD COACH MARIUSZ PODKOSCIELNY: Mariusz Podkoscielny is now in his seventh season as head coach at Oregon State, having turned the program around since arriving prior to the 1996-97 season. Under his leadership, the Beavers have posted 4 straight winning dual meet seasons, going 33-16 for a .670 winning percentage since the start of the 1999-2000 season.

Since Podkoscielny took over the Beaver program, his teams have a dual meet record of 40-38 overall and 4-21 in the Pacific-10.

Podkoscielny, 34, 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.

In June, 2002, Podkoscielny was honored as the OSU Female Sport Coach of the Year at the fourth annual Benny Awards.

SENIOR ALL-AMERICAN NAYA HIGASHIJIMA: Naya Higashijima has led the Beavers in individual event victories in all 4 of her seasons at OSU, and in her career has 107 first-place finishes in dual meet and invitational competition. So far this season, Higashijima has a team-high 31 wins. As a freshman, she won 21 races, as a sophomore she won 24 and as a junior 31, including her first 20 individual races to start the season.

Higashijima made her first trip to the NCAA Championships in 2002 as she qualified in the 500-yard freestyle, 400 individual medley and the 200 butterfly. She set a school record in the 500 freestyle and 200 butterfly, and placed 10th in the 200 butterfly to gain her first All-American honor.

JUNIOR ALL-AMERICAN BIRTE STEVEN: The phrase 'first-ever' was commonly associated with Birte Steven after her performance at the 2002 NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships.

Steven became the first-ever OSU swimmer to earn All-America honors twice in the same meet with her 16th-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke and her 11th-place finish in the 200 breaststroke. Combined with her 16th-place finish at the 2001 NCAAs in the 200 breastroke, Steven is OSU's first-ever 3-time All-American.

Steven has 74 first-place finishes in dual meet and individual competition in her career at OSU. This season, Steven has 27 wins. As a freshman, Steven shared team-high honors in individual event victories with Naya Higashijima at 24 scoring wins. In her sophomore season, Steven placed first in 23 races.

OREGON STATE RECEIVES VOTES IN NATIONAL POLL: Oregon State received votes in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America Top 25 poll released Jan. 16; they did not receive votes in the Jan. 30 or the Feb. 13 polls. The Beavers first received votes in the Dec. 10 poll; it is believed to have been the first time OSU ever received votes in the national women's swimming poll. The Pac-10 currently has 7 teams ranked in the top 25, led by Arizona at No. 6.

OREGON STATE WIN TOTALS: The Beavers' 12-3 dual meet record this season tied the school record for wins in a season set by the 1979-80 team.

This is the fourth consecutive year that OSU finished the dual meet season with a winning record; that matches the school's second-best streak from 1987-88 to 1990-91. The school record for consecutive winning seasons is seven (1977-78 to 1983-84). This is the fourth straight season, and the 10th ever, that an Oregon State team has recorded at least seven wins.

OSU has won 18 straight dual meets against non-league foes. The last non-league opponent to defeat the Beavers is California-Santa Barabara, which beat the Beavers 136-124 in the first meet of the 2001-02 season.

SENIORS CAREER RECORD: Seniors Paula Finlay, Naya Higashijima, Jillian McMinn and Suzanne Starkey have helped Oregon State compile a 33-16 dual meet record during their careers. That mark (.670 winning percentage) is the best 4-year record since OSU joined the Pac-10 and NCAA swimming prior to the 1986-87 season.

BEAVERS AMONG NATION'S TOP TIMES: Oregon State had a number of marks among the season's top 75 times in NCAA Divison I through Feb. 5. Here's where the Beavers rank among the national leaders according to collegeswimming.com:

50 FREESTYLE62. Kristin Huston	23.58500 FREESTYLE34. Naya Higashijima	4:50.761,000 FREESTYLE20. Naya Higashijima	9:56.74100 BACKSTROKE52. Suzanne Starkey	56.51100 BUTTERFLY35. Suzanne Starkey	55.76200 BUTTERFLY10. Naya Higashijima	1:58.50200 BREASTSTROKE5. Birte Steven	2:12.0257. Paula Finlay	2:18.79100 BREASTSTROKE6. Birte Steven	1:01.6838. Paula Finlay	1:03.80200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY42. Birte Steven	2:03.62400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY56. Monika Miroslaw	4:23.40200 MEDLEY RELAY14. Oregon State	1:42.98400 MEDLEY RELAY14. Oregon State	3:44.31200 FREESTYLE RELAY39. Oregon State	1:35.66400 FREESTYLE RELAY34. Oregon State	3:28.77800 FREESTYLE RELAY24. Oregon State	7:31.76

STEVENS NATATORIUM: Oregon State swims its home meets at Stevens Natatorium on the OSU campus. The Beavers went 4-0 at home in dual meets this season; it's the first time they've gone unbeaten for a season at Stevens Natatorium. OSU has an all-time record of 11-4 in the pool and OSU is 7-1 at home the past two seasons.

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 EVENT WINNERS: Naya Higashijima leads OSU swimmers in individual event victories this season with 30 wins. A look at Beaver event winners for the 2002-03 season (exhibition wins as a non-scoring competitor in parentheses) through Feb. 8:

1. Naya Higashijima	(2) 312. Birte Steven	(4) 273. Kristin Huston	154. Suzanne Starkey	(1) 105. Ausra Pacebutaite	(1) 96. Kristi Kuhlmey	87. Monika Miroslaw	28. Paula Finlay	1(tie) Mari Embertson	1(tie) Jessie Hong	1(tie) Christina Kinney	1

School records BEAVERS RE-WRITING RECORD BOOK: So far this season Oregon State has set 13 records in 10 different events. All of the record-setting swims took place during the Husky Invitational:

   1,000 FREESTYLE: Naya Higashijima, 9:56.74; Dec. 5.     400 MEDLEY RELAY: Ausra Pacebutaite, Birte Steven, Suzanne Starkey, Kristin Huston, 3:44.31; Dec. 6.     500 FREESTYLE: Naya Higashijima, 4:50.86; Dec. 6 (prelims).     500 FREESTYLE: Naya Higashijima, 4:50.76; Dec. 6 (finals).     200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY: Birte Steven, 2:03.62; Dec. 6.     200 FREESTYLE RELAY: Kristin Huston, Suzanne Starkey, Ausra Pacebutaite, Paula Finlay, 1:35.66; Dec. 6.     100 BACKSTROKE: Suzanne Starkey, 56.51; Dec. 7.     100 BUTTERFLY: Suzanne Starkey, 55:76; Dec. 7.     100 BREAST: Birte Steven, 1:01.70; Dec. 7 (prelims).     100 BREAST: Birte Steven, 1:01.68; Dec. 7 (finals).     200 MEDLEY RELAY: Suzanne Starkey, Birte Steven, Christina Kinney, Kristin Huston, 1:42.98; Dec. 7.     200 BREAST: Birte Steven, 2:12.86; Dec. 8 (prelims).     200 BREAST: Birte Steven, 2:12.02; Dec. 8 (finals).

BEAVERS' PLACES ON SCHOOL TOP-10 LISTS: Members of OSU's 2002-2003 squad hold 60 of the 140 places on the Beavers' list of the top 10 performers in each individual event. Current Beaver swimmers with entries on the OSU all-time leaders list through Feb. 8:

1. Naya Higashijima 	82. Birte Steven	73. Suzanne Starkey	64. Paula Finlay	55. Mari Embertson	4(tie) Kristin Huston	4(tie) Christina Kinney	4(tie) Danielle Kinney	4(tie). Kristi Kuhlmey	4(tie) Monika Miroslaw	411. Jessie Hong	3(tie) Ausra Pacebutaite	3(tie). Ashleigh Thomas	216. Jillian McMinn	1(tie) Leah Schaab	1

OSU FRESHMEN: So far this season, seven Oregon State freshmen hold a combined 22 spots on the school's top-10 performance list. Christina Kinney, Danielle Kinney, Kristi Kuhlmey and Monika Miroslaw each hold four spots.

WHERE THE BEAVERS RANK ON SCHOOL LISTS: Here are OSU's school records and where members of the 2002-2003 Beavers (listed in bold type) rank on the school's individual top-10 list through Feb. 8:

50 FREESTYLE1. Amy van Loben Sels	23.11	19942. Kristin Huston	23.40	20024. Suzanne Starkey	23.85	20039. Ausra Pacebutaite	24.46	2003

100 FREESTYLE1. Amy van Loben Sels 50.64 19952. Kristin Huston 50.98 20025. Suzanne Starkey 52.02 2001

200 FREESTYLE1. Kristin Huston 1:50.61 20023. Kristi Kuhlmey 1:51.72 20034. Naya Higashijima 1:52.24 20026. Birte Steven 1:54.20 20029. Danielle Kinney 1:54.54 2003

500 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima 4:50.76 20032. Kristi Kuhlmey 4:57.61 20037. Danielle Kinney 5:02.48 20039. Birte Steven 5:05.31 2001

1,000 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima 10:00.85 20022. Kristi Kuhlmey 10:15.57 20033. Birte Steven 10:19.01 20028. Danielle Kinney 10:33.89 20039. Jillian McMinn 10:38.50 2000

1,650 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima 16:34.60 20022. Kristi Kuhlmey 17:04.35 20037. Danielle Kinney 17:22.84 2003

100 BACKSTROKE1. Suzanne Starkey 56.51 20034. Ausra Pacebutaite 57.54 20039. Kristin Huston 59.37 200210. Ashleigh Thomas 1:00.24 2003

200 BACKSTROKE1. Christy Ryerson 2:03.41 19942. Jessie Hong 2:04.55 20035. Paula Finlay 2:05.45 20016. Ausra Pacebutaite 2:05.61 20037. Suzanne Starkey 2:05.93 20019. Ashleigh Thomas 2:07.87 2003

100 BUTTERFLY1. Suzanne Starkey 55.76 20033. Naya Higashijima 56.46 20014. Christina Kinney 56.61 200310. Monika Miroslaw 58.96 2003

200 BUTTERFLY1. Naya Higashijima 1:57.72 20022. Monika Miroslaw 2:03.66 20033. Suzanne Starkey 2:04.54 20025. Christina Kinney 2:06.56 2003100 BREASTSTROKE1. Birte Steven 1:01.68 20032. Paula Finlay 1:03.80 20033. Mari Embertson 1:05.90 2003

200 BREASTSTROKE1. Birte Steven 2:12.02 20032. Paula Finlay 2:16.61 20023. Mari Embertson 2:19.59 2003

200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY1. Birte Steven 2:03.62 20032. Paula Finlay 2:04.54 20023. Mari Embertson 2:06.13 20034. Christina Kinney 2:06.99 20035. Monika Miroslaw 2:07.52 20039. Jessie Hong 2:08.39 200210. Naya Higashijima 2:08.40 2002

400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY1. Naya Higashijima 4:18.98 20022. Mari Embertson 4:20.23 20023. Birte Steven 4:21.54 20024. Monika Miroslaw 4:23.40 20035. Leah Schaab 4:25.77 20037. Paula Finlay 4:28.30 20018. Jessie Hong 4:28.31 20029. Christina Kinney 4:30.19 2003

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