For the Portland State Vikings, the 2001 football season ended in disappointment as they were unjustly passed over for the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs. Although the Vikings placed second in the Big Sky Conference, ahead of Northern Arizona, NAU had one more overall win and advanced to the playoffs as a wild card.
The Vikings finished the year with an overall record of 7-4, 5-2 in the Big Sky Conference. Not only did the Viks finish with a winning record for a third straight year, they ended with a four-game win streak.
The season finale against Sacramento State was an offensive showcase. The offense rolled up 724 total yards, the second most in school history, as the Viks crushed the Hornets 52-33. Everyone got their piece of the pie in the Sacramento State game: Big Sky Newcomer of the Year Ryan Fuqua finished his freshman debut on 243 yards and three touchdowns, and All-Big Sky Conference quarterback Juston Wood was 14 of 33 passing with 373 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Jesse Levin caught six passes for 165 yards, and NFL draftee Terry Charles caught seven passes for 156 yards and a touchdown.
Considering they lost 29 seniors and 14 starters from the 2000 playoff team, the Vikings had an exceptional season.
The young 2001 Vikings had some big shoes to fill and they did. Wood came up to replace All-Conference quarterback Jimmy Blanchard. Wood led the Big Sky in three categories, including passing yards per game with 290.9. Another tough spot to fill was in the backfield. Replacing the speedy Charles “Chip” Dunn seemed difficult early on, until the emergence of Fuqua in the second half of the S.W. Texas State game. Fuqua came in and carried the ball 18 times for 112 yards. But that was just the start. In Fuqua’s last three games he rushed for 909 yards total, a new NCAA Division I-AA record. He also blew past the freshman rushing record with 1,586 yards total in just eight games.
Senior Terry Charles had another sensational season and ended his collegiate career to hopefully start one in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. Charles finished his PSU career with his share in seven school records, four of which he holds alone, three of which he shares with previous Viking standouts.
The Portland State volleyball team had a tough season finishing 4-16 overall and winning only one Conference game. At first glance this might not look like an accomplishment, but the squad broke a 47-match losing streak and had not won a single Big Sky Conference match since 1998. This year was a learning experience, as first-year head coach Jeff Mozzochi stated.
The Viking breakthrough Conference win came against the Montana Grizzlies in September with a 3-1 win. The three non-Big Sky wins came at the Duquesne Tournament in Pittsburgh, Penn., where the Vikings beat Duquesne (3-0), St. Fancis (3-1) and Northwestern State (3-0). The Vikings took the tournament and went on to win their second tourney at Camosun by defeating Simon Fraiser.
Despite how the team looks on paper, the combination of new leadership and a young roster fosters hope for a struggling program.
The Portland State women’s soccer team didn’t fare much better on the field. But like the volleyball team, the soccer squad rebounded from a two-year drought. With an overall record of 1-15-2, the team’s lone win came at home against Eastern Washington. Vikings won in overtime 3-2 with Julie Forrest scoring the “golden goal,” which was her first college goal as well.
The Vikings were out-scored 12 to 48 in the 2001 season. The leading soccer for the Vikings was Jamie Giger who finished with four goals.
Five Vikings, including four freshmen, received honorable mention Big Sky All-Conference honors. Young Viks Gretchen Pietras, Jamie Giger, Annie Peccia and Amy Orr and senior Stacy Storie received Big Sky recognition. Along with the All-Conference honors Giger, a goalie, was also named Big Sky Newcomer of the Year. She had two shutouts and led the Big Sky in saves.
The men’s and women’s cross country teams ended their 2001 season at the NCAA West Regionals in Arizona. The two top finishers were Paul Loprinzi, who placed 90th and Annie Kawasaki, who placed 58th.
Loprinzi led the men’s team consistently, placing in the top three at every meet this season.
Kawasaki led the women and was the 15th fastest runner in the regional meet and the sixth fastest at the Big Sky meet.
Another standout was transfer Jenny Rogers. Rogers won the Eastern Washington Invite early in the season and then finished first on the team at the Big Sky Championships.
The men’s basketball team may have finished 12-16 in the 2001-02 season, but it was quite an eventful year. Redshirt freshman John Olinger carried the Olympic Torch and head coach Joel Sobotka resigned after four seasons as the Vikings’ leader.
Like football, the basketball team tried to pull off a final season win streak. Unfortunately, the Vikings were stopped at four, losing their last game to Weber State 84-62.
The Viks were led down the stretch by senior Anthony Lackey. The 6-5 forward was named first team All-Big Sky Conference for a second straight season. He scored a season high 31 points against Northern Arizona ending in a 88-79 victory. Lackey was also only the 14th Viking to reach 1,000 points in his PSU career. He finished in fourth place on the all-time list with 1,304 points.
Sophomore forward Seamus Boxley earned honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference honors this season. Boxley earned Big Sky Player of the Week in December for his excellent game play against the University of Portland Pilots. Boxley was also ranked second in the Big Sky with 34 blocked shots, good for a new Portland State season record.
One problem significantly plagued the Vikings throughout the year: getting the boards. Portland State was out-rebounded on the offensive side nearly 2-1 in deadball rebounds.
As a tough to beat team at home and a struggling team on the road, the women’s basketball team had a very up and down 2001-02 season. However, it was the second time in school history that women’s basketball found their way to the Big Sky Tourney.
Portland State was struggling throughout the season, mostly on the road. Then late in January, the Vikings turned their season around and utilized their home court advantage against defending Big Sky Champion Idaho State and Weber State. The Vikings swept both games, blowing out Idaho State 82-69 and squeezing past Weber State 68-65.
Against Idaho State, the Vikings had six players in double figures. The first half of the game was back and forth, but the Vikings owned the second half, racking up 51 points to seal the win. Leading the way for the Vikings was junior guard Nikki Petticrew, with 17 points, four rebounds and seven steals.
Petticrew was also named with All-Conference honors. She is only the fourth Viking to be named to the All-Conference team since 1996. She led the squad in average points (13.5), three point percentage (.340), free throw percentage (.848) and steals (54).
The season ended for the Vikings at the Big Sky Tourney against the Montana Grizzlies. The 50.7 percent shooting from the field by the Grizzlies was too much for the Vikings, who only shot 35.6 from the field, and lost 86-52. The squad finished 11-18 overall, with marked improvement over last year’s record of 4-24.
On the mat the 2002 season was a year of highs and low for the Portland State grapplers. Although the Vikings lost a number of dual matches to forfeit in unfilled weight classes, they did record nine dual wins. The nine wins are the most since the 1989 team went 9-8-1. The team’s small success was overshadowed by the individual success of several wrestlers this season.
Senior Jeremy Wilson and junior Randy Davidson earned places in the NCAA Championships. Both wrestlers were put out in two, but until that point, had wrestled phenomenal seasons.
Wilson (184-pounds) was ranked first in the Pac-10 throughout the season ending 10-0. Unfortunately, a back injury weakened his performance at the conference championships where he was a runner up. Wilson ended his Portland State career with 107 total wins, second to Portland State legend Dan Russell (1988-91), who holds the record with 133 victories. Wilson ended the 2002 season at 34-8 overall.
Davidson qualified for his first trip to the NCAA’s at 197 pounds. The junior had a great year and showed marked improvement from his previous season. He finished the year with a 20-8 record.
Another solid wrestler for the Vikings was Quinn Collett at 174 pounds. Bad luck came upon Collett though, as he was qualified for his first trip to the NCAA Championships. In the Pac-10 semifinals Collett suffered an injury forcing him to forfeit his spot. The junior will have one last shot at the NCAA’s next season, as will Davidson.
The 2002 softball season was a “bittersweet year,” as junior Morgan Seibert put it. The Vikings struggled with consistency at the plate, leaving a number of runners on base. This inconsistency allowed Viking opponents to steal several close games, even games where Portland State was in command throughout most of the innings.
The Vikings finished 22-35 overall and 11-13 in the Western Athletic Conference. The 11 conference wins are the most victories since the Vikings joined the WAC.
Above all, Seibert provided a pivotal foundation shattering a 19-year-old strikeout record. Seibert surpassed Deb Fitzhugh’s 549-strikeout mark with 586 career K’s of her own. The junior pitcher had a stellar season with an ERA of 1.78 and 217 strikeouts.
With Seibert dominating the mound, her teammate and fellow pitcher, Nichole Ivie dominated at the plate. The sophomore led the Vikings in slugging percentage (.444), on base percentage (.342), RBI’s (21) and homers (six).
The Vikings had a tough time manufacturing runs, but they did get their first-ever win against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Ivie came through for the Viks, going four for six and pitching a shutout in the 2-0 win over the Bulldogs. That was PSU’s first win over Fresno State in the teams’ 12 meetings.
For the Portland State women’s tennis team the season ended at the Big Sky Pacific Regional Championship. The women lost to both Weber State and Sacramento State, dropping out of the tournament early. The Vikings’ overall record of 3-23 is the best since 1998. The women suffered when they lost their No. 2 singles player Blaze Wadum because of an appendectomy.
The men’s team also ended its season at the Big Sky Pacific Regionals. The men also dropped all their matches, including Weber State, Sacramento State and Northern Arizona. The men’s team totaled a record of 2-19, just as they did last season.
The men’s side had a rough time when they lost their No. 1 singles player, Michael Thoeresz, to a broken wrist in late March.
Both Viking track teams finished eighth at the 2002 season at the Big Sky Championships and the men’s squad tied for the most points in the teams’ history.
Individuals from both sides earned All-Conference honors at the Championships. For the men, Anthony Robinson earned All-Conference honors and then broke the school record in the 400-meter with a time of 47.75. The time was good for third place and the Conference honors.
Also contributing for the men’s side was the 400-meter relay team. Hashim Hall, Andre Gittens and Jim Sattem finished third in the relay with the second fastest time in school history at 41.29.
Lisa Gunderson earned her third All-Conference Big Sky honor for the women’s team in the high jump. Kerine Harvey and Jenny Rogers also placed in the top eight in the respective events.
This was the final season for the men’s golf team, since the program will be cut at the start of next year. In their final year the men’s team placed second at the Big Sky Conference Championships and Ben Guinta, Brodie Jordan and Doug Nelson all earned Big Sky honors for finishing in the top 10. Jordan and Nelson are two time conference selection winners.
On the women’s side of the green, they placed third at the Big Sky Championships for the second year in a row. Freshman Jeana Lee put in her best performance of the year and earned All-Big Sky honors and also placed fourth individually.
The women’s team was young this season and they were also without defending Big Sky medalist Taya Battistella, who redshirted with a back injury.