by Jack Rieger
The University of Nevada inducted five standout athletes, as well as the 1994 baseball team, into the 2015 Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame class this past Friday. The new Hall of Fame class was honored at the Reno Ballrooms on Friday as well as at halftime of the football game against the University of Arizona on Saturday.
The 1994 Wolf Pack baseball team won the Big West Conference with a 16-5 league record and made the school’s first NCAA regional tournament. That team included shortstop Mark Lewis, who played for six different Major League Baseball teams over the span of 11 years while hitting 48 career home runs.
The baseball team was led by legendary Nevada Wolf Pack coach Gary Powers, who coached the team from 1983 to 2013. When Powers began his tenure at Nevada, the Wolf Pack played its home games seven miles away from campus and received close to no financial or moral support from fans or even the school they played for.
“We went from a program that didn’t have a field on campus,” Powers said. “I had a part-time assistant coach that was teaching in school. We didn’t have any money. Three or four years later they were talking about dropping the program, then Bill Peccole stepped up and they made a decision to give us a chance and not stop the program. A few years later this team went to a conference championship and validated their choice to keep us.”
The 2015 class also includes Ieesha Donadelle Cannida, a first team All-Big West women’s basketball player notorious for her rebounding and scoring ability. Cannida played for the Wolf Pack from 1994 to 1998 and led Nevada to a 19-9 overall record in 1997. Kevinn Pinkney was the other basketball member of the 2015 Hall of Fame class. Pinkney was part of an unusually successful run for the men’s basketball team in 2004, when Nevada made it all the way to the Sweet Sixteen. Pinkney was a defensive workhorse for the Wolf Pack with 89 career blocks and was named to the Western Athletic Conference All-Defensive team in 2005.
The 2015 class also included a national champion in Ryan Tanoue, who was with Nevada from 2002 to 2005. Tanoue earned All-American honors seven times in his career and won the national championship in 2002. Tanoue went on to compete for the U.S. national team in 2003 and was a medalist for six consecutive U.S. national championships.
Darrel Rasner was another member of a Nevada baseball team honored this past weekend. Rasner pitched for the Wolf Pack from 2000 to 2002 and compiled an impressive collection of accolades including most career wins, strikeouts and innings pitched in Nevada history. Rasner was drafted in the second round by the Montreal Expos while also playing for the Nationals and Yankees during his Major League career.
Nevada’s Hall of Fame class also included swimming and diving All-American Jia Lin Sun. Sun led the Wolf Pack to four Big West titles and still holds the school record for the 50 and 100 freestyle. Sun earned an astounding 12 All-American honors in her illustrious career.
Since Nevada instituted an athletic Hall of Fame in 1973, the University has inducted 182 individuals and four different teams.
Jack Rieger can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @JackRieger.