Thursday, May 8, 2008

WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Clint Collier, an all-conference competitor who led the resurgence of the Whitman College men's swim team, is one of two recipients of the 2008 R.V. Borleske Trophy, which is presented annually to the top male athlete at Whitman College.

The trophy, awarded by a vote of the Whitman coaching staff, recognizes athletic ability and accomplishments, leadership and sportsmanship qualities, and contributions to the campus as a whole.

Collier shares this year's Borleske Trophy with soccer player Max Weber.

Collier, a team captain the past three years, was one of only six male swimmers -- and the only freshmen -- on the men's team in his first year at Whitman. "With only six guys we were essentially forfeiting one relay event at every meet, but Clint was anything but discouraged," Whitman swim coach Jenn Blomme says. "He continued to work very hard, became a team captain as a sophomore and has led our team ever since. His influence on both the men's and women's teams has been enormous. He motivates us all with the incredible energy he brings to every practice and meet."

The men's squad swelled to 18 swimmers this past season and "shows no sign of slowing down in terms of depth and growth," Blomme says. The Missionary men came within one relay victory of placing third at the 2008 Northwest Conference championships, finishing fourth for a second consecutive year after having placed sixth in Collier's first season.

Collier, a two-time winner of his team's Coaches Award, capped his senior season by breaking a 13-year-old school record in the 100-yard breaststroke. He set the new mark (1:00.47) while placing a career-best sixth in the finals of the NWC championships. He had placed seventh once and eighth twice in his three previous trips to the conference meet.

Collier and his teammates got off to a good start at the 2008 championships by setting new school records in three relay events on the first two days of competition. Collier also made the championship finals in his other two individual events, placing seventh in the 200-yard individual medley and eighth in the 200-yard breaststroke.

In four seasons, Collier placed no lower than ninth in any of his individual events at the NWC championships. In addition to his school record in the 100-yard breaststroke, he has times that rank him fourth all-time at Whitman in the 200-yard individual medley and fifth all-time in the 200-yard breaststroke.

Blomme also credits Collier with "single-handedly" reviving Whitman's club water polo team. "He found the club a non-student coach, lobbied for funds to purchase uniforms and equipment, and established a tournament hosted each spring by Whitman," she says. "Clint has also been a leader within our lifeguard staff."

Collier, a graduate of Saint Pius X High School in Albuquerque, N.M., is the son of Travis and Kathleen Collier of Albuquerque.

The Borleske Trophy honors Raymond V. Borleske, who achieved legendary status as an athlete and later as a coach at Whitman during the first half of the 20th century. He starred on Whitman's football and baseball teams, and he was the first football player from the Northwest to be recognized by Walter Camp's Spaulding Football Guide. After graduating from Whitman and earning a law degree, Borleske returned to campus in 1915 to begin a coaching career that continued until 1947.