Whitman Athletics Department Hands Out Annual Awards

News Release Date:
Friday, May 4, 2012

WALLA WALLA, Wash. — Whitman College celebrated its top varsity athletes earlier this week during an annual Awards Recognition program in Reid Campus Center.

Coach Michelle Ferenz, Jenele Peterson

Two seniors had their names added to the coveted Borleske Trophies -- an honor given each spring to the top senior athletes (male and female) -- and a third senior received a special recognition award from President George Bridges.

Outstanding Performer awards, given annually to one male and one female in each class, were also presented during the awards program.

Those awards, as well as the Borleske honors, are decided by vote of the Whitman coaching staff.

With associate professor of biology Delbert Hutchison serving as the master of ceremonies, the Borleske Trophy awards were presented to basketball point guard extraordinaire Jenele Peterson and tennis ace Conor Holton-Burke. 

The Borleske trophies recognize athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship, and contributions to the campus as a whole.

They are given in honor of Raymond Vincent Borleske, who achieved legendary status as a Whitman athlete and coach during the first half of the 20th century, and his wife Mignon Borleske, who taught dance and women's physical education classes for nearly four decades.

Peterson, who topped the Northwest Conference in assists by a wide margin last season, also led Whitman in scoring for the third time in her four seasons. She has served as president of Whitman's Student Athlete Advisory Committee for the past two years.

Coach Jeff Northam, Conor Holton-Burke

Peterson, named to the All-NWC First Team as a senior and junior, has been accepted into the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at Washington University (St. Louis), although she hopes to play basketball professionally next year in Europe.

Holton-Burke, the 2011 NWC Player of the Year, has been the driving force behind a men's tennis team that rose this spring to No. 1 in the West Region rankings and to No. 8 at the national level. He is a two-time ITA All-American, and he leads Whitman into the NCAA DIII national tournament later this month for a fourth straight year.

Holton-Burke, the only member of his class elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, is graduating Summa Cum Laude with honors in biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology.

He plans to stay at Whitman next year as assistant tennis coach while he applies for post-graduate studies.

Meanwhile, President Bridges also presented the first Award for Distinguished Achievement to senior basketball player David Michaels.

Michaels enjoyed a superlative season this past winter, averaging 20 points per game while becoming Whitman's first NWC Player of the Year in that sport in more than two decades.

"What I find especially unusual and praiseworthy about David's accomplishments is the dramatic turn his academic and athletic performance took in his junior year," Bridges said.

David Michaels, President George Bridges

"I have taught student athletes for nearly 30 years as a professor, dean and now president and never have I witnessed such a clearly evident turning point in a student's life. His conscious commitment to making significant steps in his academic and athletic performance -- and then achieving them beyond anyone's expectations -- is inspiring."

Noting that no "formal method of recognition or award exists at Whitman for this type of achievement," Bridges said he was honoring Michaels as the first recipient of an award that acknowledges the "very few individuals whose personal accomplishments set a standard of excellence that is without equal."

Outstanding Performer awards, for the senior class, were given to women's soccer player Amy Hasson, who made the All-NWC First Team last fall for the second time in three seasons while scoring the second most points in the conference, and to David Michaels, who earned All-American basketball honors from the D3hoops.com website and was the first DIII player in almost a decade to warrant an invite to the prestigious Portsmouth Invitational post-season tournament. 

The senior awards are given in honor of the late Max Seachris, a former baseball coach and athletic director, and Lee Coleman, a retired swim coach and an early champion of women's intercollegiate athletics.

The men's Outstanding Performer award for the junior class was given to swimmer Galen Sollom-Brotherton, who earned Swimmer of the Meet honors at the NWC Championships and later became a two-time All-American at the national championships.

Coach Heather Cato, Amy Hasson

Tennis player Alyssa Roberg and cross country runner Emilie Gilbert shared the women's award for the junior class.

Roberg netted NWC Player of the Year honors this spring while leading the women's tennis team to its first-ever berth in the national championship tournament. Gilbert ran to All-NWC honors for a second straight season and qualified for the national championships for the second time in three years.

The junior awards are given in honor of retired women's tennis coach Jayne McCarthy, a four-time conference coach of the year, and the late Bob Burgess, a long-time Whitman tennis and basketball coach .

Andrew La Cava (tennis) and Keller Hawkins (swimming) took home the sophomore class awards.

Hawkins, who had six top-six finishes at the NWC Championships, made her best showing in the 100-yard backstroke, where she set a new school record while finishing just two one-hundredths of a second behind the winner. La Cava, the 2012 NWC Player of the Year, is a two-time ITA All-American who has risen to No. 7 in the national singles rankings.

Courtney Lawless (tennis) and Karl Mering (swimming) received the Outstanding Performer awards for the first-year class.

Lawless, who made the All-NWC First Team, is 19-1 on the season in singles and is No. 4 in West Region rankings. Mering, who joined Sollom-Brotheron as the first Whitman men to qualify for the NCAA national championships, earned All-American honors and won two individual races at the conference championships.

A number of other awards, including those recognizing academics and sportsmanship, were also presented during the recognition program.

Holton-Burke, with a cumulative grade point average above 3.97 (4.0 scale), was recognized for a second straight year for being the varsity athlete with the highest GPA.

Master of ceremonies Delbert Hutchison shows off WC blankets
given to senior varsity athletes.

Filling out the top five GPA list were sophomore Michael Jorgensen (cross country), sophomore Cooper Schumacher (soccer), sophomore Hallie Swan (soccer) and junior Helen Jenne (swimming).

Nearly 100 varsity athletes also were recognized for having grade point averages above 3.5.

The George Ball Sportsmanship Award, given annually to one of the varsity teams, was presented to the women's basketball team.

Whitman's Student Athlete Advisory Committee also gave a special recognition award to Victoria Johnson, administrative assistant in the athletic department, for her support of the committee's work.

Eight Whitman athletes who earned All-American honors this past year, either from the NCAA or other organizations, were also recognized as part of the awards ceremony. They are swimmers Galen Sollom-Brotherton and Karl Mering, tennis players Andrew La Cava, Conor Holton-Burke, Matt Tesmond, Alyssa Roberg and Courtney Lawless, and basketball player David Michaels.

On the academic side, senior Mollee Huisinga was recognized for earning national academic honors from the cross country coaches association.

The women's and men's cross country teams, as well as the women's and men's swim squads, also received national academic team honors from their respective national coaching associations.

Whitman's 2011-12 All-Americans: (l-r) Karl Mering, Galen Sollom-Brotherton, Andrew La Cava, Matt Tesmond, Conor Holton-Burke, Courtney Lawless, Alyssa Roberg, David Michaels.

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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; holden@whitman.edu