A Vikings softball helmet on the field. Eric Shelby/PSU Vanguard

The Vikings’ year in pandemic sports

Portland State Athletics overcame pandemic struggles the past year

With a year of fake crowd noise, cancelled games, short seasons and a reigning conference champ, Portland State Athletics has officially crossed the hurdle of pandemic sports and is ready to play amongst fans again. Before we’re in person once again this fall, let’s have a recap of the 2020/21 pandemic year.


The 2020-21 women’s basketball season started off with six of the first seven games cancelled and ended with 12 wins and 13 losses. Even though it was a rough and unusual start, the Viks still managed to beat our conference rival, #9 Eastern Washington, 71-51 in the Big Sky conference tournament but ultimately lost 50-66 to #1 Idaho who later went on to win the championship.


Junior Desirae Hansen led the team averaging 12.6 points per game this season with a total of 314 points, joining the 1,000 point club as a Viking. Senior Tatina Streun led the team in rebounds with 162. Senior Kylie Jimenez led the team in assists with 98 this season and joined the All Big Sky (ABS) third team selection this season, along with Hansen. Upcoming new Vikings next year are Mia ‘Uhila, Megan Nieto, Rhema Ogele and Alaya Fitzgerald.


After arranging games with multiple non-conference teams as a response to the seven cancelled games this pandemic season, the men’s basketball team finished the season with a 9-13 record. Senior forward Khalid Thomas and freshman Paris Dawson both led the team with the most 3-pointers made, with a total of 32. The team had a first-round exit in the Big Sky tournament, losing to Northern Arizona 66-77. Good things are coming for the team as Jase Coburn becomes the new head coach and six new Vikings join the team: Ezekiel Alley, Michael Carter III, Hayden Curtiss, James Jean-Marie, Marlon Ruffin and Damion Squire.


Even though the softball season ended with 15 wins and 26 losses, PSU shut out #4 Northern Colorado 4-0, outlasted #1 Weber State 2-1, proved their dominance against #2 Southern Utah 6-5 in 9 innings and proved it again against the same team 8-1 to be crowned as 2021 Big Sky conference champions. This win punched their ticket in the NCAA tournament regionals in Seattle.


The softball team was sadly knocked out of the tournament but still celebrated a milestone of winning their first Big Sky championship since 2013. Their season ends with senior Marissa Bruno holding a .396 batting average and being named first team All Big Sky (ABS) with junior Tayler Gunesch, along with senior Rachel Menlove being named second team ABS.


The men’s tennis team ends their COVID season with a record of 7-10 remaining undefeated at home with a 6-0 record. All the way from Serbia, senior Nikola Dimitrijevic made the first team ABS. Tommy Edwards and Fortini made second team doubles with juniors Sam Roberts and Tommy Hsu making honorable mentions. 


The women’s tennis team finished their season with a record of 9-11, with a 3-1 record at home. Capu Sanoner, a freshman from Marcq-en-Baroeul, France, was awarded ABS first team singles. Sanoner and freshman Makoto Ohara were awarded second team doubles, while Junior Emily Rees was awarded second team singles.


Our soccer Vikings ended their season 0-9-1, with senior Kasey Isobe named NSCA All-American strength and conditioning athlete of the year. Sophomore goalkeeper Enya Hernandez ended the season with 49 saves and junior Paige Donathan led the team with 2 goals this season. Their tie was with a home game, on campus, against Humboldt State.


In Track and Field, Junior Josh Snyder broke a 39-year school record running the fastest men’s steeplechase ever at 8:56.64. Kaila Gibson ended her six year career as a Viking by breaking a record, running the fastest 10k since 1987 at 33:55.99. Junior Keynan Abdi ran the fastest men’s 5k since 2001 with a time of 14:14.00. PSU golf had a head-to-head record of 13-5 vs. Big Sky schools. Valerie Hernandez led the team in birdies this season with 34 and Jasmine Cabajar with 32.


The Viks football team cancelled their season this year due to COVID, along with a few other teams in the Big Sky. The gridiron Viks agreed to play Montana who also had their season cancelled. This one game season ended with a loss of 48-7. Quarterback Davis Alexander threw 15 for 25 and 33 yards and wide receiver Mataio Talalemotu made the touchdown for the Viks early in the first quarter. They end their “season” 0-1. They start the new season away on Sept. 4 against Hawaii, then travel to Washington state to face the Cougs on Sept. 11.


After our Volleyball Viks had a rough start of 1 win in the first 12 games, the Viks finished strong with winning 5 of their last 6 with a hopeful outlook to next year. They end the 2020-21 season with a 6-12 record. Ellie Snook won Big Sky libero of the year and ABS second team for the second time in her Viking career. Parker Webb led the team this season with the most kills at 161 and 2.4 kills per set. 


Portland State has a bright future ahead of us even with a pandemic cloud over our head, and things are looking up for 2021/2022. GO VIKS!