The Portland State University football team suffered through an uncharacteristically mediocre season before finishing with a 6-5 record, one game worse than its record in the 2001-02 season, leaving fans wondering, “What if?” The Vikings were 6-3 and ranked 13th nationally before losing their last two games and missing the playoffs. It was the Vikings’ worst record since 1998.
Portland State started the season 2-0 and had moved up to eighth in the NCAA Division I-AA poll before falling 41-0 to the University of Oregon Ducks in Eugene on Sept. 21. The loss didn’t affect the Vikings in the standings much, but the next week’s loss to No. 16 Northern Arizona dropped Portland State to 16th in the poll. The Vikings were able to put together a three-game winning streak in the middle of the season, but they lost a heartbreaker to the archrival Montana Grizzlies, then finished the season with a two-game losing streak. In all, Portland State lost four conference games by a total of 15 points. Competition was tough, as the Vikings had only two opponents with records below .500.
The team’s defense was the key to a number of victories, as the “D” allowed 50 fewer yards and seven fewer points per game than last year.
Coach Tim Walsh, in his ninth season as head coach, is losing 28 players to graduation, and his 2003 squad will return only nine full-time starters. Another seven players who earned spot starts are also returning. However, PSU’s all-time winningest coach thinks his team is in good shape for next year. “Our wide receivers are vastly improved and we’re very good at the skill positions on defense,” Walsh said. “All we need is a little help on the defensive front.”
The Vikings start next season with three games at home in PGE Park. Last season, the Vikings went 5-1 at home in PGE Park and averaged 7,735 fans per game. PSU will face Texas A&M-Kingsville Sept. 4, Nicholls State Sept. 13, and Northern Arizona Sept. 20. The game against Texas A&M-Kingsville is a special Thursday night game.
The Volleyball team enjoyed great success this year, turning in a record-breaking 10-14 season. They also earned their first-ever trip to the BSC Championships, but were cut down in the first round by Montana State (3-1).
Junior Richell Wilson was an important factor for the team all season, routinely dominating the floor with her impressive offensive and defensive skills. The Arizona native was honored for her efforts by the BSC coaches as a selection to the second All-Conference team.
Senior Katie Kost received an All-Big Sky honorable mention, ranking seventh in the BSC in both hitting percentage (.325) and kills per game (3.48). This fairly young team, only standing to lose four graduating seniors, should be able to build on its success next season. Head coach Jeff Mozzochi has announced the signing of four accomplished high school seniors to letters of intent for the 2003-04 academic year.
The Portland State Vikings soccer team had won a total of one match since the 2000 season. Going into the 2002 season, nobody really knew what to expect. The Vikings won 12 games, setting a school record and capturing rights to the biggest turnaround in Division I sports in 2002.
“Obviously I’m really proud and happy for how far our team came. I think we went out and had a fantastic overall season and a fantastic end,” said head coach Tara Bilanski-Erickson after season’s end.
The Vikings played in the conference tournament this year for the first time since 1997. They were 4-1-1 in conference play, sharing second place with rival Montana. At home this season, they were a force to be reckoned with, posting a 7-1-2 record between PGE Park and the Tigard Soccer Complex. Playing away from home was not a difficult task for the team either. This year’s team became the first soccer team in history at PSU to have a winning record on the road, 6-4-2.
Going into the Big Sky tournament, the Vikings won 10 out of their final 14 matches and carried the momentum to the postseason. Not being a familiar place for Portland State soccer, the team showed poise pacing a 1-0 nothing win against Montana in the semifinal and advancing to the championship game. It took Idaho State overtime to get the better of the Vikings, 1-0, but Bilanski-Erickson and the squad kept their heads high.
This year’s team set various school records for goals, assists, points and shots on the offensive end. On defense, it had fewest goals allowed and fewest goals allowed per game. The record for goals was previously 23 in the 1999 season. That record was almost doubled and destroyed with 45 in 2002. Assists went up from 22 in 1998 to 43 by this year’s team. The overall points record was crushed, from 66 in 1999 to 133 in 2002. There were only 20 goals allowed this season to the previous mark set in 1998 at 33.
Another amazing fact about this year’s squad was all the new faces that represented a rejuvenated soccer team. There were 14 new faces on the team, including 10 freshmen, one sophomore and three juniors.
“I’m looking forward to the future of our team because we have such great young talent,” said Bilanski-Erickson back in November.
Of the many accolades and records this team achieved throughout the season, there were individual accomplishments as well. Bilanski-Erickson was named Coach of the Year for Big Sky soccer in 2002. She is only the second PSU coach in history to receive this award. Sophomore transfer Katie Miyake was named Big Sky co-MVP and newcomer of the year.
The men’s cross-country team finished sixth at the Big Sky Championships in the Fall of 2002. That was the best finish that a Portland State squad had recorded since joining the Big Sky. As a team, the Vikings ran for a score of 157, 35 points better than one season prior.
The women’s cross-country team rounded out a solid season at the NCAA Western Regionals in November, where several runners gave especially notable performances in the 6K race. Annie Kawasaki finished in 42nd place with a time of 22:48, Jenny Rodgers came in at 53rd with a time of 23:03, and Brynn Cogdill finished 81st at 23:46. Overall, the women placed 11th out of 28 teams, which included rivals Stanford, Arizona State and UCLA.
The men’s basketball program had a new look this year from a coaching standpoint and through new faces on the floor. The Vikings finished a rebuilding season 5-22, 3-11 in Big Sky conference games.
The Vikings suffered a couple key injuries in the season that could have changed their team in a major way. Guard Seamus Boxley was forced to sit out majority of the season recovering from surgery on his hand. Also freshman forward Marshall Hartman took a redshirt season due to a knee injury suffered in the preseason.
There were a couple bright spots to this year’s season. Senior’s Jeb Ivey and Kevin Briggs carried the team through the season. Ivey led the team in scoring with 15 points per game, as Briggs upped his performance in the Big Sky at 16.3 points per game during conference games. From the wing spot, Briggs also led the team in assists at 83 on the season and steals with a total of 36 through 27 total games. As the team recovers from injuries and has new faces ready to join a new system of basketball, the Vikings are optimistic about the 2003-2004 season.
Viking women’s basketball (13-14, 8-6 in Big Sky) recorded its best season since 1999. The team captured the fourth seed at the BSC Championships, where Eastern Washington knocked it out in the quarterfinals.
Though the team continuously struggled on the road, a crucial late-season sweep of some BSC opponents on their home courts served to rally the Viking players and fans. Idaho State and top-ranked Weber State were dispatched in short order on Feb. 27 and March 1, as the Vikings charged ahead into the remaining few games of the regular season.
Junior Sarah Hedgepeth was an invaluable asset to the team all year, typically leading in both the scoring and rebounding categories. The 6-foot Hedgepeth earned a spot on the All-Big Sky Conference first team. Guard Nikki Petticrew, who was named to the first team in 2002, received honorable mention honors this time around. Center Carrie Spencer made a triumphant return to the team after having missed the last few seasons due to injury.
Fourth-year head coach George Wolfe has signed a total of six new players to letters of intent for the 2003-2004 campaign.
The Portland State wrestling team continued to adjust to Division I competition in the Pac-10 this season, as the team finished with a final record of 4-16, 0-10 in the Pac-10. The Vikings failed to return to a national championship level but sent eight wrestlers to the conference championships in Boise, Idaho.
Along with Eric Arbogast, who took second at the Pac-10 championships at 165 pounds and went to the NCAA championships, Viking grapplers at the conference championships were Quinn Collett, Eddie Dahlen, Randy Davidson, Stuart Eggertson, Zac Enoch, Casey Kotter and Antonio Criado.
The Vikings were picked to finish ninth in the Pac-10 preseason poll and got their season off to a tough start with three meets against nationally-ranked opponents, where the team was defeated in all three and started the season off 0-3. PSU was finally able to slate a win by whooping up on Simon Fraser 37-9.
Then, after wins over Southern Oregon and Pacific University, the Vikings stood at 4-11. The Vikings then lost their remaining five meets to wind up the season in last place in the Pac-10.
At the Pac-10 championships, Arbogast won his first two matches and eventually lost in the 149-pound championship. Since the top four wrestlers in the conference get a bid in the NCAA championships, Arbogast headed to Kansas City, Mo., to compete in the national championships. He lost his first two matches there and finished the season 14-15 overall, 14-11 in conference matches.
Juniors Enoch and Kotter both earned first-team All-Academic honors in the Pac-10. The grapplers split time at 125 and 133 pounds this season. Senior Collett took honorable mention honors.
Arbogast, Collett, Davidson and Shawn Keinonen are all graduating seniors.
Track and Field
Led by some excellent individual performances in the Big Sky Conference championship meet, the Portland State Vikings track and field teams both took eighth place in the meet and sent seven student-athletes to the West Regional meet in Palo Alto, Calif., and finished in 20th place. Led by Lisa Gunderson’s fifth-place finish in the high jump and Jim Sattem’s sixth-place finish in the 100M, the Vikings were able to score points on both the men’s and women’s sides and finish as the 4th-best Big Sky women’s team at the Regionals and 6th-best Big Sky men’s team. Since their entrance into Division 1 competition, no Portland State track and field team has finished as high in the Big Sky championships.
Gunderson, Sattem and Ryan Brown led the Vikings in the BSC championship meet. Gunderson won the conference high-jump title and Sattem won the 100-meters. Brown took second in the long jump. Brown ended up placing 6th in the West Regional, earning PSU three points. Sattem’s 6th place also earned the team three points. Gunderson, with the best finish of any Viking, took fifth in the high jump and earned four points for the team.
The season turned out well, however. Two-year coach Tony Veney has decided to leave the program for an opportunity in California. The program is only going to lose 11 athletes to graduation from both teams combined.
While the teams have yet to be chosen for the outdoor season, the Big Sky all-academic team featured 22 PSU track-and-field and cross-country students last year. “We take pride in that,” Veney said. “It’s a balance of family, faith, athletics, academics and personal life. Performance is great, but the main thing is – just compete!”
After starting its season playing the first 20 games on the road, the Portland State University softball team finally came home to the wet Northwest in late April only to have home games repeatedly postponed due to rainy weather. The team wasn’t able to finish out its schedule, but the Vikings were able to finish alone in third place in the inaugural season of the Pacific Coast Softball Conference against strong competition from teams like Loyola Marymount and Santa Clara. The Vikings only played 12 of their 48 games at home and were .500 or better against all conference foes.
The rainy spring was a real lowlight. “Twenty-seven of 31 days in March had measurable rainfall, and we had the wettest April on record,” Mariani said.
Senior second baseman Megumi Hackett, a four-year starter for the Vikings, became the first PSU softball player named to the All-Region team in Division I play, earning a second-team spot. Hackett, called “the best second baseman to come through” by Mariani, batted .318 and had a .978 fielding percentage. The Vikings had their best team batting average since moving to Division I competition in 1996.
This season also marked the end of Morgan Seibert’s career at PSU. The pitcher, tied for all-time wins and the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts, appearances, starts and innings pitched, was voted to the PCSC’s first-team. “Morgan is going to be hard to replace because of her ability, but also because of the way she approached the game. The tougher the opponent or situation, the more she wanted the ball,” said Mariani in a recent press release.
Freshman Maggie DeWall was also voted to the PCSC’s first team. The outfielder, along with fellow freshman outfielder Tiffany McHenry and freshman pitcher Michelle Hext, have proven their abilities to play at the Division I level. Hext and DeWall both earned all-tournament first-team honors at the Embassy Suites Tulsa Invitational in early March.
Saying goodbye to Viking softball are Hackett, Seibert, first baseman Nichole Ivie (who is the Vikings’ career leader in home runs, with 12), pitcher Megan Herscher and outfielder Ashley Tennant.
“The five grads are all quality people. We’re going to be able to replace them, maybe not at the same level, but I know there are places where we’ll be better than we were this year,” Mariani said. “I am fired up for next year. I would be ready if we started next week.”
The golf team, comprising Taya Battistella, Elyse Dodson, Bobbie Dunn, Jeana Lee, Rebecca Randolph, Kristin Ratzlaff, Sarah Tiller and Monica Venn, had an outstanding year.
The Vikings shot well at every tournament this season but really kicked into high gear at the BSC Championships. Not only did the team score its first-ever title, it also boasted the top individual finisher – Battistella (68-74-77=219). Battistella’s score of 4-under par on the first day set a new BSC tournament record and cemented her place as one of the most accomplished women golfers in BSC history. Randolph also had a banner tournament, placing second overall at 75-78-71=224.
“We believed all along that we could win,” said Head Coach of the Year Felicia Johnston. “Whether they took us lightly or not, I don’t feel like it was unexpected at all.”
The team was not as successful in post-season play. Tough Western Regional competition from such schools as USC, Oklahoma State and UCLA kept the Vikings at bay in 16th place overall.
Talented golfer Lisa Kajihara, who hails from Pukalani, Hawaii, is expected to join the team next year.
The women’s tennis team was dealt a hard blow on May 22 when PSU athletic director Tom Burman announced the elimination of the program due to budget constraints.
The fledgling men’s team, reinstated only four years ago in tandem with the hiring of head coach Leslie Lewis, was making gradual improvements with every match.
The women ended their season with a record of 8-16, a significant improvement over their win total of three from last year. The sixth-seeded team hosted the single-elimination BSC Championships in April, where they were narrowly defeated by third-seed Idaho State, 4-3.
Freshman Katie Owens, who was the top singles player on the Viking team, was awarded with a first team All-Conference honor. A second team All-Conference honor was given to Owens’ doubles partner, Denise Cockrell. Junior Lisa Bessman was recognized with an honorable mention.
The men’s team concluded the season at 3-20 overall. They surrendered a 4-0 match in the postseason to Montana State. Beau Smith finished the season receiving second team All-Conference honors. Smith was 4-13 on the year and marked the first time for a Viking men’s player to receive all-conference honors.