Beavers Take Step to Building Program, Better Overall

April 28, 2005

Corvallis, Ore. -

The Liebowitz era continued at Oregon State with team-wide improvements and several signs of an ascending program.

'The team worked really hard this year,' head coach Larry Liebowitz said. 'They put in a great deal of effort and I think that we are right on the edge of breaking through. [to the next level]'

Now in his second campaign at Oregon State, Liebowitz sees this year as more of a transition than his first season. That perspective seems true when you consider that the team added 10 new swimmers to fill out the roster and a host of nationally-ranked teams added to the schedule.

'This year was more of a transition year than last year,' Liebowitz said. 'I showed up late last year and I kind of just went along with what was here.'

The Beavers finished the season with a 6-6 overall dual meet record (1-5 Pac-10). In many of those meets the Beavers held their own and won a sizable share of the events. Not bad considering that five of Oregon State's regular season opponents finished in the top-20.

'I think the tough schedule made the team feel more comfortable with the competition and therefore, easier to compete against the top teams,' Liebowitz said.

Liebowitz doesn't plan on looking up at the competition for long. A competitive schedule littered with top-25 teams, is a change he hopes will bring Oregon State into the elite swimming community.

'Swimming other schools that are ranked will help us to build our future,' Liebowitz said. 'It will help in recruiting and help our image in the swimming community.'

While swimming against some of the best programs in the country, the Beavers recorded many outstanding performances. Most notably, freshman Courtney Eads, who raced to a team-high 25 dual meet wins en route to setting two new two school records. Her mark of 25 season victories places 5th on the all-time single season wins list. Another standout freshman, Felicia Castaneda, made an impact throughout the season and finished in the top-20 in the breaststroke at the NCAA championships.

'We had some really memorable swims by a couple freshman,' Liebowitz said. 'Courtney Eads had two school records and Felicia (Castaneda) finished the season real solid at the NCAA's.'

Senior All-American Mari Embertson also made an impact this season, particularly coming at the end of the season. Embertson best displayed her talents at the Pacific-10 conference championships when she swam NCAA qualifying times for the 400 individual medley and 200 individual medley. In the 400 IM she swam an A-standard at an NCAA qualifying time, a great way to finish out her Pac-10 career.

'Mari struggled a little bit this season but then picked it up at the Pac-10's and did what very few swimmers do [swim an A-standard at NCAA qualifying time],' Liebowitz said.

The highlight of the regular season for the Beavers came at the Speedo Cup in Long Beach, California. Oregon State set school records six times and finished within 100 points of the eventual winner, Stanford. Nearly every swimmer on the team had season best times at the meet and a few finished with personal records or school records.

'We swam great at Speedo Cup, it was a great team effort,' Liebowitz said. 'It was our most successful meet of the year.'

At the Pacific-10 championships Oregon State, had a strong effort and finished in 7th place, ahead of Northwest rival Washington. The Beavers also completed team goals of scoring over 500 points at the meet and qualified three swimmers for the NCAA championships.

'The Pac-10 was really solid, but I was hoping for a little bit more,' Liebowitz said. 'We had three people at the NCAA's this year which is the most ever.'

Overall Liebowitz said he saw a lot of improvement from the whole team this year. He believes that while the team didn't finish in the top-25 like the prior two seasons, the team as a whole is more complete. He continued to point out that several swimmers are very close to breaking into national contention.

'Overall the team is better as a whole than we were last year,' Liebowitz said. 'If we can just have one jump, we could have three or four people at the NCAA championships, we are that close.'

OSU's 2004-05 team set school records in seven events, including three relays.

'Seven school records is great,' Liebowitz said. 'Now the times we have to beat are getting more impressive.'

Liebowitz is very proud of what the team accomplished this year and is looking forward to what the program at Oregon State can become in the future.

'We showed ourselves to be a great team,' Liebowitz said. 'The ladies are really great to one another and they work hard for each other, and that is probably our greatest strength right now.'

'We are fighting to make that next jump and that unity amongst our team is what is going to help us over this hump.'

Oregon State at NCAA Championships: Oregon state qualified a school record three swimmers for the NCAA championship in a total of six events. The Beavers finished without any points as none of the swimmers from OSU qualified for the finals heat in their event. Five of Oregon State's season opponents finished in the top-20. Georgia won the team title.

OSU season opponents in the top-20

3) Arizona

5) Stanford

8) California

12) Arizona State

16) Hawaii

18) UCLA

Senior All-American Mari Embertson, and freshaman Courtney Eads and Felicia Castaneda represented Oregon State in a total of six events at the NCAA championships. Embertson finished 20thin the 400 individual medley and 41st in the 200 individual medley. Eads finished 48th in the 200 freestyle, 43rd in the 500 freesytle, and 36th in the 200 butterfly. Castaneda had the best finish for the Beavers at the meet with her 19th place finish in the 100 breaststroke.

OREGON STATE AT PACIFIC-10 CHAMPIONSHIPS: For the second straight year Oregon State finished strong at the Pac-10 championships to place seventh in the team standings. Stanford went on to win their 15th Pac-10 team title in 17 years.

Courtney Eads scored in three individual events including a 9th place finish in the 500 freestyle and another 9th place finish in the 200 butterfly. Both of her times in the events were good enough for a B-standard. Mari Embertson swam to a 6th place finish and an A-standard time in the 400 individual medley, then finished 13th in the 200 individual medley for a B-standard. Felicia Castaneda placed 6th in the 100 breaststroke with an A-standard time.

Also scoring in individual events for the Beavers were Kristin Huston (50 free, 9th; 100 fly, 15th; 200 free, 15th), Erika Wirth (50 free, 15th; 100 fly, 14th; 100 free, 18th), Ausra Pacebutaite (50 free, 20th; 100 back, 15th; 200 back, 14th), Brie Marhenke (50 free, 22; 100 free, 24th), Monika Miroslaw (400 IM, 20; 200 fly, 14th), Felicia Castaneda (200 breast, 19th), Sandy Hong (1650 free, 12th), Christina Kinney (200 fly, 20th), Erin Postma (1650 free, 23rd), and Leah Schaab (400 IM, 23rd).

ACADEMIC HONORS: Oregon State's Jessie Hong earned Pac-10 first team honors. Mari Embertson, Ausra Pacebutaite, and Leah Schaab were named to the second team. Earning honorable mention were Sandy Hong, Kristen Huston, Danielle Kinney, Christina Kinney, Monika Miroslaw, Ashleigh Thomas.

BEAVERS BREAKING BOUNDARIES: During the 2004-05 season, Oregon State has set school records seven times in seven events. The Beavers set five records at the Speedo Cup and two at the Pac-10 championships.

500 FREESTYLE: Courtney Eads; Dec. 18, Speedo Cup finals; 4:45.91.

200 FREESTYLE RELAY: Kristin Huston, Erika Wirth, Ausra Pacebutaite, Brie Marhenke; Feb. 23, Pac-10 Championships; 1:33.21.

200 FREESTYLE: Courtney Eads; Dec. 19, Speedo Cup finals; 1:49.43.

100 BACKSTROKE: Ausra Pacebutaite; Dec. 19, Speedo Cup finals; 55.58.

200 BACKSTROKE: Ausra Pacebutaite; Dec. 20, Speedo Cup finals; 2:01.01.

400 FREESTYLE RELAY: Kristin Huston, Erika Wirth, Ausra Pacebutaite, Courtney Eads; Dec. 20, Speedo Cup finals; 3:24.27.

800 FREESTYLE RELAY: Courtney Eads, Sandy Hong, Erika Wirth, Mari Embertson; Feb. 23, Pac-10 Championships; 7:24.27

OREGON STATE EVENT WINNERS: Courtney Eads led OSU swimmers in individual event victories this season with 25 victories.

  1. Courtney Eads 25
  2. Kristin Huston 14
  3. Ausra Pacebutaite 10
  4. Christina Kinney 8
  5. Felicia Castaneda 7
  6. Sandy Hong 5
  7. Monika Miroslaw 4
  8. Erika Wirth 2

OREGON STATE ALL-TIME SINGLE SEASON WINS: Several 2004-05 Oregon State swimmers gained a place on OSU's top 25 of single-season event winners in the Pacific-10 era (1987-present). Here are the Beavers on that list through the end of the 2004-05 season:

5. Courtney Eads, 2005 25

17. Kristin Huston, 2005 14

24. Ausra Pacebutaite, 2005 10

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