Beavers Go In Championship Style

Dec. 3, 2002

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Oregon State at Husky Invitational; Federal Way, Wash.; all day

Oregon State (3-2 overall duals, 0-2 Pacific-10 duals) competes in its first championship-style meet of the season when it takes part in the 55th Annual Husky Invitational at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wash.

The Beavers are returning to the invitational for the first time since the 1993-94 season. For the past eight seasons, the Beavers competed in the Speedo Cup in Long Beach, Calif.

College and club teams are participating in the four-day meet, which begins Thursday. The event is being held in the same venue that will host the Pacific-10 Conference Championships later this season.

Beaver head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said he hopes several swimmers will meet qualifying marks for the NCAA Championships this week.

'This meet becomes more about times, whereas dual meets are more about places and points,' Podkoscielny said. 'We are trying for personal and season best times, and to qualify for NCAAs.

'The whole season is geared toward two meets. When we get closer to an invitational, we change our training and do more speed work. We rest for about a week and try to get the swimmers fast.'

The 1,000-yard freestyle is the lone event scheduled for Thursday. Five events will take place on Friday, seven on Saturday and six on Sunday. Each day, preliminary heats will start at 8:30 a.m. and finals will begin at 5:30 p.m.

'The most important day is going to be Thursday,' Podkoscielny said. 'Even though we only have four or five people swimming in the 1,000 free, they will set the tone for everyone else. If we have a good, solid performance that day, it helps carry on the momentum throughout the whole meet.'

Sophomore co-captain Anna Zucker will not compete for the Beavers as she is still recovering from knee surgery. Podkoscielny said Leah Schaab is not 100 percent healthy (shoulder), but is scheduled to swim.

OSU will return late Sunday to complete final exams before traveling to Hawai'i. Podkoscielny said he is proud of the way his team prepared for the end of fall term and for this week's invitational.

'They have dealt with a strenuous schedule during the two weeks prior to this meet,' he said. 'They gave up Thanksgiving break and some have taken early finals. They've been taking their tasks head on and have been very responsible and professional.'

OREGON STATE AT THE HUSKY INVITATIONAL: The Beavers are making their first appearance at the Husky Invitational since the 1993-94 season, when OSU finished 12th in a field of 18 teams.

OSU SPLITS DOUBLE-DUAL: Naya Higashijima won six individual events and Birte Steven had four wins as Oregon State defeated San Jose State 165-118 in a non-conference dual and lost 154-108 to No. 7 California in a Pacific-10 dual on Nov. 15.

The Beavers won nine of the 13 events against the Spartans. Along with Higashijima's and Steven's victories, Kristin Huston finished first in the 50- and 200-yard freestyles and Ausra Pacebutaite took the 100 backstroke. The OSU 200 medley relay team of Suzanne Starkey, Steven, Christina Kinney and Huston touched the wall first with a time of 1:47.20.

'We had a very good effort,' Oregon State head coach Mariusz Podkoscielny said. 'We were very tough against one of the best teams in the nation in Cal, and it was nice to see us get up on the blocks and race hard. We have to keep competing against teams like that if we want to keep improving, and today was one of the best performances we have had against a top team in the nation.

'We talked about going into this meet how the circumstances would be different with the environment and weather. It's a little harder for us to compete outdoors, but it was a good meet for us to win against San Jose State because they had some good swimmers.'

Higashijima raised her career event win total to 90 with victories in the 200 yard butterfly, 500 freestyle and 1,000 freestyle. The senior had season-best times in all three events.

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 3 straight winning dual meet seasons, going 24-15 for a .615 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 31-37 overall and 2-20 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 three of her seasons at OSU, and in her career has 90 first-place finishes in dual meet and invitational competition. So far this season, Higashijima has a team-high 14 wins. As a freshman, Higashijima 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 57 first-place finishes in dual meet and individual competition in her career at OSU. This season, Steven has 10 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.

SENIORS CAREER RECORD: Seniors Paula Finlay, Naya Higashijima, Jillian McMinn and Suzanne Starkey have helped Oregon State compile a 24-15 dual meet record during their careers. In their first three years they posted a 21-13 dual meet record behind three consecutive seven-win seasons. That mark (.618 winning percentage) is the best three-year record since OSU joined the Pac-10 and NCAA swimming prior to the 1986-87 season.

STEVENS NATATORIUM: Oregon State swims its home meets at Stevens Natatorium on the OSU campus. The Beavers defeated Nevada in the first home meet this season and will host a total of four dual meets during the 2002-03 season.

The Beavers went 3-1 at home in dual meets last season and have an all-time record of 9-4 in the pool.

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 SEASON FINISHES: The Beavers 7-5 dual meet record last year marked the third consecutive year that OSU finished with a winning record; that's the longest streak since a 4-year run above .500 from 1987-88 to 1990-91.

OREGON STATE EVENT WINNERS: Naya Higashijima leads OSU swimmers in individual event victories this season with 14 wins. A look at Beaver event winners for the 2002-03 season (exhibition wins as a non-scoring competitor in parentheses) through Nov. 15:

1. Naya Higashijima	142. Birte Steven     (1) 103. Kristin Huston	54. Kristi Kuhlmey	2(tie) Ausra Pacebutaite 26. Christina Kinney	1(tie) Suzanne Starkey	1(tie) Monika Miroslaw	1

BEAVERS' PLACES ON SCHOOL TOP-10 LISTS: Members of OSU's 2002-2003 squad hold 56 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 Nov. 15:

1. Naya Higashijima 	82. Birte Steven 	73. Paula Finlay 	6(tie) Suzanne Starkey	65. Kristin Huston	4(tie) Mari Embertson	47. Jessie Hong  	3(tie) Grace Peterson	3(tie). Kristi Kuhlmey	310. Jillian McMinn	2(tie) Monika Miroslaw	2(tie) Ausra Pacebutaite	2(tie) Nicole Reynolds	2(tie) Christina Kinney	215. Ashleigh Thomas	1(tie) Danielle Kinney	1

OSU FRESHMEN: So far this season, six Oregon State freshmen hold a combined 11 spots on the school's top-10 performance list. Kristi Kuhlmey leads the freshmen with three top-10 times and her No. 2 time in the 1,000 freestyle is the highest top-10 performance by any member of the team this season.

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 Nov. 15:

50 FREESTYLE1. Amy van Loben Sels	23.11	19942. Kristin Huston	23.40	20026. Suzanne Starkey	23.96	2002100 FREESTYLE1. Amy van Loben Sels	50.64	19952. Kristin Huston	50.98	20027. Suzanne Starkey	52.42	2001200 FREESTYLE1. Kristin Huston	1:50.61	20023. Naya Higashijima	1:52.24	20025. Birte Steven	1:54.20	200210. Paula Finlay	1:54.99	2000500 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	4:51.74	20024. Grace Peterson	5:01.83	20027. Kristi Kuhlmey	5:04.97	20038. Birte Steven	5:05.31	20011,000 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	10:00.85	20022. Kristi Kuhlmey	10:15.57	20033. Birte Steven	10:19.01	20027. Grace Peterson	10:26.76	20028. Danielle Kinney	10:33.89	20039. Jillian McMinn	10:38.50	20001,650 FREESTYLE1. Naya Higashijima	16:34.60	20025. Grace Peterson	17:16.71	200210. Jillian McMinn	17:51.30	2000100 BACKSTROKE1. Suzanne Starkey	57.15	20015. Ausra Pacebutaite	58.11	20039. Kristin Huston	59.37	2002200 BACKSTROKE1. Christy Ryerson	2:03.41	19944. Paula Finlay	2:05.45	20015. Suzanne Starkey	2:05.93	20017. Jessie Hong	2:06.59	20028. Ausra Pacebutaite	2:07.78	2003100 BUTTERFLY1. Suzanne Starkey	55.77	20023. Naya Higashijima	56.46	20016. Christina Kinney	58.08	2003200 BUTTERFLY1. Naya Higashijima	1:57.72	20022. Suzanne Starkey	2:04.54	20024. Monika Miroslaw	2:05.93	20039. Christina Kinney	2:09.50	2003100 BREASTSTROKE1. Birte Steven	1:01.94	20022. Paula Finlay	1:03.88	20025. Mari Embertson	1:06.38	20029. Nicole Reynolds	1:07.45	2002200 BREASTSTROKE1. Birte Steven	2:12.96	20022. Paula Finlay	2:16.61	20023. (tie) Mari Embertson	2:20.77	20028. Nicole Reynolds	2:23.87	2002200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY1. Birte Steven	2:04.01	20022. Paula Finlay	2:04.54	20023. Mari Embertson	2:06.56	20027. Jessie Hong	2:08.39	20028. Naya Higashijima	2:08.40	2002400 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY1. Naya Higashijima	4:18.98	20022. Mari Embertson	4:20.23	20023. Birte Steven	4:21.54	20025. Paula Finlay	4:28.30	20016. Jessie Hong	4:28.31	20029. Kristi Kuhlmey	4:34.50	200310. Monika Miroslaw	4:34.89	2003
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