VIKEtober showcase sees Vikings stars shine

CSU’s annual basketball event shows off two championship squads

The Cleveland State University men’s and women’s basketball teams kicked off their seasons with the VIKEtober showcase in front of a huge crowd of students and fans back on Oct. 15. The line to even get into the Wolstein Center was all the way to the street, with many students arriving early to see the festivities. With live music and food at their side, students took their seats to get ready to see a first glimpse of the two championship teams.

The event got started by having Cleveland Cavaliers arena host, Ahmaad Crump, come out and introduce the rosters for both of the teams. The chemistry that these Cleveland State teams have shone through as each player came out paired with a member of the opposite team and had their own unique handshake. Each player came out to a thunderous applause from the crowd as expectations are high for these two teams coming off their best seasons in a long time.

Junior forward Amele Ngwafang and senior forward Chris Greene high five each other after being introduced. Photo by Matthew Keyerleber

Following was an exciting three-point shootout with the women’s team going first. Participants included junior forward Brittni Moore, sophomore guard Destiny Leo, and senior forward Isabelle Gradwell. The men’s team brought out sophomore forward Jayson Woodrich, senior guard Nathanael Jack, and finished with junior forward Anderson Mirambeaux.

Gradwell was the first to make it to the final round with an incredible performance that saw her make six threes in a row, ending her round with an impressive shot from well beyond the three-point line, the only one of the six contestants to make the shot. The men’s team saw Jack face-off with Gradwell in the final round, where she was once again almost robotic in her shooting, beating out Jack for the win.

Senior guard Nathanael Jack goes through his first rack of shots in the first round of the shoot out. Photo by Matthew Keyerleber

The men’s basketball team played a green and white game for the fans, which had tons of back and forth, quick-paced basketball. Overall, the event was very successful for the Vikings and the team is showing promise for this upcoming season. Players are excited to get back out there as well. Senior guard Tre Gomillion spoke on seeing Cleveland State fans back in the stands again, saying, “I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like. There’s no telling what it’s going to be like this year and I can’t wait to see it!”

Senior guard Craig Beaudion was also ecstatic to have fans back in the stands again. Beaudion brought the energy during VIKEtober, pumping up the crowd every chance he could get. He has brought the energy for years now with the Vikings and with fans back in the stands, he said he could not wait.

“One thing we missed last year was the fans so we had to create our own energy. But with creating our own energy plus the fans, I think that gives us more energy which we’re gonna need through our ups and downs.”

A Vikings player dunks the basketball while his teammates look on during the VIKEtober showcase game. Photo by Matthew Keyerleber

Beaudion and Gomillion touched on having Coach Gates back with the recent extension he had signed to stay with the Vikings and what it meant to him.

“For me personally, Coach Gates is one of the coaches who recruited me, I had no offers until I got a call from him on my couch,” said Beaudion. “I’m honored that he signed it. As a team, I think we’re all happy that he came back.”

“It just shows how our program is. He wants to be around us day in and day out. It shows he wants to be in this program for years to come,” commented Gomillion. “It’s just a blessed thing and I’m grateful that he is giving me this opportunity to play for him.”

There were rumors all last year after the Vikings championship on whether Coach Gates would sign an extension or move. It is clear now that he wants to be here with his guys and they are thrilled to have him with them still.

The men’s team began their season with an exhibition game at home against Case Western Reserve on Oct. 30. The women’s team will begin their season later this week, facing off against Ursuline in an exhibition game on Nov. 3.