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The nine best local duos in Nevada Wolf Pack athletics history

Armon Johnson
Hug High's Armon Johnson skies for a bucket while Galena High's Luke Babbitt watches from behind him. Those two played together for Nevada and in the NBA. (Byrne Photo/Nevada athletics)

A rarity happened this month when Nevada softball standouts Chelie Senini and Sadaria McAllister were named first-team all-conference players. It was a rarity because both of those players are local products, Senini graduating from Bishop Manogue and McAllister from McQueen. It's not often local products stay home and earn first-team all-conference honors in the same season. In fact, it's only happened a couple of times in Wolf Pack history. And that got me thinking about the best local duos in Nevada athletics history. So I compiled a list of nine duos, each coming in a different sport (one entry per sport to spread the love). In no particular order, here's my list of the nine-best local high school duos in Wolf Pack history.

Men's basketball

Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson: Only two local high school products have reached the NBA, and they played together for the Wolf Pack from 2008-10. While neither of their Nevada teams made the NCAA Tournament (one NIT, one CBI), it wasn't the fault of Babbitt (Galena High) or Johnson (Hug High), who scored a combined 2,378 points during their two seasons college together. They also began their NBA careers together in Portland. A third local, Olek Czyz (Reno High), redshirted during their final season at Nevada. While they might not have had the team success they wanted, Babbitt and Johnson were a one-of-a-kind pairing and were both selected to enter the Wolf Pack Hall of Fame in 2020.

Football

Harvey Dahl and Chance Kretschmer: We could go in a number of directions with football duos, but I'll take the rural boys. Dahl is from Fallon and Kretschmer from Tonopah. They played together for the Wolf Pack from 2001-04. A walk-on, Kretschmer led the nation in rushing as a freshman in 2001 with 1,732 yards and 10 touchdowns, including a 327-yard, six-score game in the season finale. Paving the way for Kretschmer was Dahl, a mauling offensive linemen who was a three-time Basalite Big Blocker of the year honoree who'd play eight NFL seasons. It was a great local blue-collar pairing, and that's not even including the team's starting quarterback late in the Kretschmer-Dahl tenure (McQueen's Jeff Rowe).

Softball

Brittany Puzey and Britton Murdock: Nevada softball has been replete with high-achieving local products, so this one wasn't easy. You could also sub in Puzey and Sarah Hunt (McQueen), but I'll go with Puzey (Douglas High) and Murdock (Reno High). They played together for two seasons (2008-09), with the first one being one of the greatest teams in school history in any sport (Nevada notched eight Top 25 wins, including beating No. 1-ranked Arizona). Puzey is one of the best softball players in WAC history, and Murdock earned second-team honors in 2008.

Baseball

Don Price and Darrell Rasner: These two only overlapped for one season, but that year was 2000, the last time the Wolf Pack made the NCAA Tournament (it also won the highly competitive Big West that season). Price, a Reno High graduate, was a senior that season; Rasner, from Carson High, was a freshman. Price was a 1999 All-American and a three-time All-Big West honoree, including first-team honors in 1999 and 2000. He's second in school history in homers (59) and fourth in RBIs (215). In 2000, Rasner went 14-2 with a career-best 3.52 ERA; he recorded the Wolf Pack's last win in a Regional.

Volleyball

Tristan Adams, Carly Sorensen and Teal Ericson: This is a duo list, but we have to make this one a trio. Adams and Sorensen were stars at Churchill County High before playing at Nevada from 2003-06. Ericson, from North Tahoe High, was on the team from 2004-07, so the trio overlapped for three seasons. They led the Wolf Pack to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2005, the program's last two national postseason appearances. Adams and Ericson made three-All-WAC teams apiece, and Sorensen ranks eight all-time in career kills and career points. Ericson was a 2019 Wolf Pack Hall of Fame inductee, and Adams could warrant such an honor, too.

Women's swimming and diving

Krysta Palmer and Michelle Forman: Both claiming Carson City as their hometown, Palmer went to Douglas High and Forman to Our Lady of Victory. Palmer is an Olympic-level diver who was a two-time MW diver of the year and two-time All-American honorable mention who helped the Wolf Pack win the 2016 MW title (the only women's championship in Nevada's MW history). Forman swam for Nevada from 2011-15, overlapping with Palmer for three seasons. She was an all-conference honoree who specialized in long freestyle races, her best conference finish being fourth in the 1,650 free as a senior. The current partnership of Donna dePolo (Manogue) and Benedict Nagy (McQueen), both MW gold-medal winners, is also noteworthy.

Men's golf

Scott Smith and Jared Becher: Smith is a Churchill County High grad and Becher a Reno High alum. They overlapped at Nevada for three seasons from 2007-10. They were both first-team All-MW picks in 2008-09, but their best year together was 2009-10 when Becher had a team-best 71.69 strokes per tournament and Smith was at 72.83. One of those two players posted Nevada's low score in nine of 14 tournaments that season. Becher won the Cougar Classic; Smith finished second at the WAC Championship. Both rank top six in school history in career birdies and top three in career eagles. Combined, they made five All-WAC teams.

Women's basketball

Kayla Williams and Johnna Ward: This program has had a lot of good local players, but they've rarely overlapped. I looked for a duo-mate for McQueen High stud Kate Smith, but the only quality local she played with was Mineral County's Ashlee Orndorff, and that was only for 15 games during Smith's sophomore season. Instead, we'll go with Williams (Reed High) and Ward (Spring Creek High), who played together for three seasons from 2008-11. Neither made the all-conference team, but both were quality role players on teams anchored by Tahnee Robinson that went 57-41 overall and 29-19 in the WAC, one of the best eras in program history.

Women's cross country/track and field

Erika and Sidney Root: We finish the list with twin sisters because it's exceptionally rare to have high-achieving local siblings compete for Nevada, let alone them being twins. The Reno High graduates joined the Wolf Pack in 2012 and both have top-10 times in program history in the 2,000-meter steeplechase (track and field) and top-25 times in program history in the 4,000 meters (cross country). Erika is 12th in the 5K. Erika overcame stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma during the middle of her college career in 2016 to return to competing for the Wolf Pack, crediting the strength of her teammates and sister for helping her win that battle versus cancer. For that reason, it's hard to find a better duo than this one.

Columnist Chris Murray provides insight on Northern Nevada sports. Contact him at crmurray@sbgtv.com or follow him on Twitter @ByChrisMurray.

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