OSU Capped Off Year With All-America Performance At NCAAs

April 17, 2001


When the 2000-2001 swimming season began at Oregon State, the team had hopes of advancing to the NCAA Championships some six months away. There were hopes of an OSU swimmer becoming an All-America for the second time in school history, and there were hopes of elevating the program to among the nation's elite.

When Birte Steven touched the timing pad on the final lap of her 200-yard breaststroke at the NCAA Championships in Long Island's Nassau County Aquatic Center, she put the finishing touches on those hopes, which had turned into reality.

Steven joined former OSU standout Amy van Loben Sels as the second swimmer in school history to earn All-America acclaim when she finished 16th in the 200-yard breaststroke in a time of 2:15.46.

The freshman was literally a fingertip away from earning All-America honors in the 100 breaststroke as well, as she finished .01 seconds after the 16th-place finisher.

After a season that saw the Beavers break school records 19 times and post their second consecutive seven-win dual meet season, OSU is poised to raise the bar yet again next year.

'It definitely puts us in an elite group,' OSU coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said of OSU swimming at the NCAAs. 'There are only about 48 teams that qualify each year for Nationals, which is less than 20% of NCAA Division I teams, so it's a pretty elite group. It definitely affects our recruiting, especially against the Northwest schools.

'We finished higher than any of them (Northwest rivals Washington and Washington State) at NCAAs, not that's it's going to make a huge difference, but it's definitely knocking away some of the tools from other schools that were able to say `Oregon State doesn't even have anyone going to NCAAs'. Now we've made it to the NCAAs and performed well there. It's a step in the right direction.'

OSU finished ninth at the Pac-10 Championships this year, but in the toughest conference in the nation, even ninth place is nothing to shake your head at given the fact that five of the nation's top 10 teams reside on the Pac-10 Conference. Over the last four or five years, Oregon State, Washington, and Washington State have made great strides to close the gap from top-to-bottom in the conference.

Now, moving up even one spot in the conference championships is a huge step for a program in the Pac-10.

'Hopefully, we'll finally move out of that ninth spot in the conference,' Podkoscielny said of one of his team's goals for next year. 'The exciting thing is that four or five years ago, we knew going into the conference championships we were going to finish last. Now, we're going and we know that we are in contention to be higher. The bad thing about it - but it's a great thing for the conference - is that the whole conference keeps improving, believe it or not, even though the teams are already the best in the country.

'Oregon State, Washington State and Washington continue to improve as well, which makes the conference better from top-to-bottom. This conference made adjustments and changes and all three teams are improving. So finishing ninth in the conference isn't necessarily as big of a disappointment as it was four or five years ago when the bottom of the conference wasn't as strong. These days, with our finish of ninth in the conference, we could win 90% of the other conferences in the nation, so it's a tremendous accomplishment. But still, we'd like to move out of that ninth spot and finally beat Washington and Washington State in the conference meet.'

OSU will have a void to fill with the graduation of five seniors, as Melissa Hsieh, Amy Imwalle, Arianna Higuera, Erin Buckley and Kristen Severance all completed their eligibility, but a strong recruiting class should be able to flourish given the foundation provided by this year's group.

'This was the last year for five of our seniors, and they did a great job for us,' Podkoscielny said. 'They were the foundation of this team, but we're also excited about what's going to happen down the road. This is a big turnaround year for us from the standpoint of personnel - almost half of next year's team is going to be incoming freshmen. The exciting thing is that we were able to replace and patch up all the holes that were created by people leaving this year. In some areas, we're getting even better, so the future looks bright, we have great returnees and we have a great incoming freshman class, so we're excited about next year.

HEAD COACH MARIUSZ PODKOSCIELNY: Mariusz Podkoscielny completed 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 finished ninth this year with a score of 285 at the Pac-10 Championships, which included six of the nation's top 17 programs. Five of those teams were ranked 10th or higher.

The Beavers broke four school records: Naya Higashijima in the 1,000 freestyle and the 1,650 freestyle, Birte Steven in the 100 breaststroke, and the 200 freestyle team of Arianna Higuera, Trista Hedlind, Bonnie Renwick and Suzanne Starkey.

Steven became just the third OSU swimmer to place in the top eight of an event, as she placed eighth in the 100 and 200 breaststrokes. Teammate Paula Finlay placed eighth two years ago in the 100 breaststroke.

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

BEAVER SENIORS LED THE WAY: The five seniors on this year's squad - Arianna Higuera, Amy Imwalle, Erin Buckley, Kristen Severance, and Melissa Hsieh - hold 17 of the spots on OSU's top-10 performers list, 64 of which are held by current squad members. Higuera has five, Imwalle four, Hsieh and Severance three each, and Buckley two.

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 RECORD BOOKS: Sophomore Naya Higashijima owns four of the 14 individual school records, and has broken school marks five times this season. Here's a look: 500 freestyle, 4:54.99, 1,000 freestyle, 10:14.31, 1,650 freestyle: 16:54.91, 200 butterfly, 2:01.43.

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 in 1999-2000.

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 set school records 19 times over the 2000-2001 season. Here's a look at the records that have been set - nine of which were 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 Washington200 freestyle relay	Higuera, Hedlind, Renwick, Starkey, 1:35.73,	Feb. 22 at Pac-10s100 breaststroke	Birte Steven, 1:02.24, Feb. 23 at Pac-10s1,000 freestyle 	Naya Higashijima, 10:14.32 (1,650 split),	Feb. 24 at Pac-10s1,650 freestyle 	Naya Higashijima, 16:54.91, Feb. 24 at Pac-10s

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 64 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.

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)tie. Birte Steven	5 (100 breast, 200 breast, 200 IM, 400 IM, 500 		free)6. 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)

WHERE THE BEAVERS RANK ON SCHOOL LISTS: Here are OSU's school records and where members of the 2000-2001 Beavers rank on the school's top-10 lists through the end of the 2001 season:

50 FREESTYLE1. Amy van Loben Sels	23.11	19944. Arianna Higuera	23.99	20016. Suzanne Starkey	24.32	20017. Bonnie Renwick	24.36	200110. Trista Hedlind	24.56	2001100 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	20005. Birte Steven 	5:05.31	20017. Amy Imwalle  	5:06.95	199910. Jill Personius	5:10.63	20001,000 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	10:14.32	20014. Jill McMinn  	10:38.50	20005. Amy Imwalle  	10:38.58	20016. Dana Stoddard	10:44.56	19991,650 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	16:54.91	20014. 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	59.44	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 	1:02.24	20012. Paula Finlay 	1:04.39	20003. Kristen Severance	1:05.94	20014. Sheila Tehranchi	1:06.26	20019. Sarah Cohen  	1:07.81	1999200 BREASTSTROKE1. Birte Steven 	2:14.43	20013. Sheila Tehranchi	2:21.17	20014. Paula Finlay 	2:21.23	20005. Kristen Severance	2:21.58	20016. Sarah Cohen  	2:21.70	1999200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY1. Paula Finlay 	2:05.46	20002. Birte Steven 	2:05.84	20014. Arianna Higuera	2:08.10	19997. Kristen Severance	2:09.44	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 the end of the 2001 season.

BEAVER SPORTS INFORMATION: Oregon State women's swimming sports information director Travis Lahman can be reached at (541) 737-3720. OSU women's swimming information is also on the athletic department website at www.osubeavers.com

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