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Barry and Harms garner CoSIDA distinct academic honors

Chris Barry, a junior defensive lineman for the Wolf Pack football team, and Christine Harms, a sophomore outside hitter for the Wolf Pack volleyball team, were named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-District VIII team recently.

Barry, a two-time selection, was named to the first team of football players from the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Barry, from Tacoma, Wash., carries a 3.61 grade point average in education.

Harms, who also competes on Nevada’s track and field team, was named to District VIII’s second team. The Placerville, Calif., native carries a 4.00 GPA in civil engineering. She had been named to the Cal Golden Bear All-Tournament team earlier in the year.

— John Trent

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WAC Champs!

Women’s cross country team notches school’s second title

All season long, Coach Kay Ulrich stressed that her women’s cross country team was on a mission.

“We put ourselves on a mission,” says the Pack’s coach, in her seventh season, “and all of them pulled together so well.”

Indeed they did. Consider it “mission accomplished,” as the Wolf Pack women surged to the team title at the Western Athletic Conference Championships on Nov. 1 at Belmont, Calif. Nevada’s 43 points topped runner-up UTEP, which totaled 63 points. And for good measure, Nevada had the women’s individual champion — senior Abigail McAllister took first place with a time of 17 minutes and 7 seconds. McAllister, a two-time All-American in nordic skiing for the Wolf Pack, was named WAC Athlete of the Year for her performance.

“Neither Abby or I were expecting her to win at all, and that was amazing,” Ulrich says. “She led almost the entire race.” Adds women’s track coach Curt Kraft, who made history when he led Nevada to its first-ever WAC title in any sport last winter in indoor track: “I could not be any more proud of these athletes than I am right now. The team knew what they wanted and they went after it.”

— John Trent

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High-scoring Snyder

The sky is the limit for Pack’s talented junior forward

From his first appearance as a Wolf Pack basketball player two seasons ago, Kirk Snyder has almost drawn the kind of attention from defenders that Las Vegas receives in pop culture and the national media. Let’s just say that opponents know who he is.

Starting with his 15-point, nine-rebound performance in a 22-minute Pack debut Dec. 27, 2001, at San Jose State, the 6-foot-6 junior guard has worn out many opponents through 50 games in a Nevada uniform. Entering the 2003-04 season, he had scored at least 20 points and collected no fewer than 10 rebounds in six different games.

However, the primary target of Pack foes, a not-so-coincidental No. 1 in the game program, is not through refining his game. He’s working to be the kind of athlete deserving of preseason Western Athletic Conference Player of the Year honors.

“I’m still learning how to be that player,” says Snyder, a 20-year-old Upland, Calif., resident. “I want to get after it.”

The Wolf Pack lost guard Jerry Petty, a defensive stalwart and steals leader, from last season’s 18-14 team. Snyder believes he can play a valuable role this year to overcome such a loss by being a strong and agile defender.

“That’s going to have a lot to do with me,” last year’s team-leading rebounder and shot-blocker says. “I have to step up a little bit. I can put the ball in the hoop, but I’ve got to be able to defend now.”

Nevada head coach Trent Johnson says Snyder is learning the importance of setting a good example for his younger teammates on the court.

“Blue collar is what it is about to me,” Johnson said. “He’s understanding the little things that need to go into your preparation every day.

“From a skill level, there is nothing he can’t do,” Johnson continues. “When you’re blessed, the common denominator that will separate you from other talented players is how hard you work.”

Snyder says a key part of his being a leader for the Wolf Pack is helping the team play at a high level throughout each game. WAC media and coaches selected the team in preseason polls to improve on last season’s third-place finish and win the conference this year.

“We have to win some close games,” he says, referring to the Pack’s 2-8 record last season in games decided by five or fewer points. “That has to be a bad feeling for the fans.”

The first-team All-WAC selection says he appreciates the way area fans have come out to cheer both himself and the Pack during his two-plus years in northern Nevada. The Wolf Pack, which finished the season as WAC tournament runner-up and as a National Invitation Tournament qualifier, drew an average of 6,805 spectators to 14 Lawlor Events Center games last season, about an 11 percent increase from Snyder’s first year.

“I really enjoy the people here in Reno, and the support I get from the people in town,” says Snyder, who traveled to the Bahamas this summer for exhibition games with fellow collegiate players on the NIT All-Star team. “I’d like to say, ‘Thank you.’”

Considering the kind of performance Snyder expects from himself this season, he should be able to let his actions do that kind of talking. If all goes according to plan, look for some loud Las Vegas Strip-style results.

By Pat McDonnell

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Intense Bankston looks to spur defense

There is an obvious intensity to Wolf Pack women’s basketball player April Bankston that splashes to the surface whether she is standing over an opponent on the Lawlor Events Center court or sitting silently while waiting for questions during an interview in a Legacy Hall conference room.

Bankston, the top returning player from Nevada’s 10-19 team last season, acknowledges that she is a real quiet person who, nevertheless, has to struggle “to be a good girl sometimes.” The 20-year-old can be bad for opposing offenses, as she has compiled 47 blocked shots in her two-year Wolf Pack career.

University Relations writer Pat McDonnell chatted with Bankston in late October at Legacy Hall.

Q: What’s your pet peeve on the court?

“When I have to watch myself, and I can’t yell at a certain player. Like you just want to scream at somebody, (she smiles in remembrance of just this situation), but you’re like, ‘Ahhh (Bankston exhales deeply), I can’t do it. OK. ’And then you just calm down (laughs).”

Q: Who do you consider to be your role model?

“My mentor was always my cousin, Carla (a Bakersfield, Calif., resident in her mid-20s who lost a brother to an untimely death last year).”

Q: Tell me a little bit about Carla.

“She was always there for me, giving me support. We’re there for each other. Like last year, I lost my cousin. We’re just very close to one another.”

Q: How are you meshing with the new coach (Kim Gervasoni, who was hired by Nevada from Arizona State in April)?

“I think I’m meshing pretty well. She’s already feeling comfortable enough to tell me where I should be. She’s not afraid to critique me in any way, you know (she laughs)?”

Q: What does it take to make a good shot-blocker and a person who anticipates as well, evidently, as you do?

“You have to have good reflexes. You have to be able to react and, obviously, be athletic to recover. Right now, I’m getting a lot better with using my feet a lot more than my upper body.”

About April Bankston

  • 6-foot-1 junior forward
  • Mathematics major with an art minor (originally pursued engineering)
  • Led the Wolf Pack and was sixth among Western Athletic Conference players in blocked shots last year with 31. Entering this season, she ranked seventh on Nevada’s all-time blocks list.
  • Achieved two “double-doubles” during her sophomore season, accumulating at least 10 points and 10 rebounds in games against St. Mary’s (Dec. 15) and versus Southern Methodist (March 11) in the WAC tournament.
  • Don’t mess with April on the court. She has earned a black belt in Tae kwon do. The sport helps her “stay low” and have quick reactions defensively.

Story by Pat McDonnell

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Gervasoni brings winning mentality to Nevada

Kim Gervasoni, the new women’s basketball coach, has never had a losing season — not as a player at Fresno State, not in her two years as assistant coach at Pac-10 champion Arizona State, and not in her eight years as head coach at Solano Community College.

This year, she brings that exceptional record to Nevada.

“I’ve never been a part of a losing program,” Gervasoni says. “I bring that winning mentality, that aggressive, ‘go get ‘em’ mentality.”

Winning at Nevada, she says, is going to require building a foundation of team unity and elevating the intensity.

“Our number one goal is team chemistry,” she says. “When you get in tight situations, you want to rely on each other and trust each other and care about each other.”

And for upping the intensity, her husband and assistant coach, Mike Gervasoni, will be pushing the offense to a new level of aggressiveness.

We like to play up tempo — we want a full-court press,” she says. “We want to keep the pace up and use the altitude to our advantage. We want to run people out of the gym.”

However, with a young team — only one senior and four juniors — much work lies ahead.

“We’re teaching them basketball,” she says. “We don’t want to limit them. We want to help them reach their potential. Our focus is to improve every day.”

Running Phil Jackson’s “triangle offense,” Gervasoni plans to tap the talent of her standout players, namely sophomore point guard Jocelyn Mancebo and junior forward April Bankston.

“April really brings the most experience,” Gervasoni says. “Her game has improved so much [from last year]. Fans are really going to be excited to watch her play.”

Mancebo, a transfer from Delta College scoring 14 points per game last season, will bring a fresh mind to the game.

“Jocelyn is amazing because she reads other players really well,” Gervasoni says. “She can pull up and shoot the three on a dime, she can shoot a jump shot, she can take it all the way to the hole. She’s a playmaker.”

The Pack will find its biggest test Jan. 8 and Feb. 7 against Louisiana Tech, Nevada’s top opponent according to Gervasoni.

By Brandon Stewart

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Triplett wins on home turf

Kirk Triplett’s visits to Reno since he graduated from the university in 1985 with a degree in engineering have been few and far between. But that’s just life on the PGA Tour — other than living out of a suitcase and spending countless hours on the world’s most challenging golf courses, there are few other certainties.

So it was altogether fitting that Triplett, the former Wolf Pack golfer who for the past decade has ranked among the PGA Tour’s most consistent players, earned the championship of August’s Reno-Tahoe Open at Montreux Golf and Country Club. Triplett, 41, stormed into the lead with a final-round 63 (tying the course record). He finished with a 17-under-par total of 271, three strokes ahead of Tim Herron.

Triplett was overjoyed to win in front of many of his former teammates and friends from college.

“I had tremendous support from all the folks in the gallery out there hollering,” says Triplett, whose career earnings eclipsed the $10 million mark with his $540,000 first-place payday. “Every couple of holes I could see someone I knew. It was just very comfortable for me out there.”

— John Trent

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