By Mary Byrne, APSE Second Vice President

Aaron Suttles of The Tuscaloosa News took first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2014 contest for Beat Writing in the under 30,000 circulation category.

Suttles will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2015 APSE banquet on June 27 at The  Westgate Hotel in San Diego, Calif.

Balloting by six APSE judges ranked Suttles ahead of runner-up Mike Vorel of the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune and third-place finisher Cory Giger of the Altoona Mirror. The top 10 is listed below with links to writers’ Twitter pages and entries.

Sports editors in the under 30,000 circulation category submitted 54 beat writing entries written or directed by APSE member sports departments in 2014. All entries were stripped of their headlines, bylines and any other elements that would identify the writer or news organization.

In early February, preliminary judges at the APSE winter conference in Orlando, Fla., selected a top 10, with each judge ranking the entries in order from 1 to 10 separately on a secret ballot. Entries were given 10 points for a first-place vote, nine points for second and so on. The final 10 were given to a second judging group, which ranked the entries 1-10 in the same fashion. The winner and final rankings are determined by tallying the ballots.

The Beat Writing category recognizes the most authoritative, newsy and innovative coverage of a beat during 2014. Each APSE member news organization was permitted to submit up to two entries of five stories each. Each entry consisted of at least one breaking news story, one event or game coverage, one enterprise piece and two wild-card stories that could include a blog post.

The contest is open to all APSE members. Go to this link to join.


2014 APSE Contest: Beat Writing, under 30,000 circulation

(First-place votes in parentheses)

 1. Aaron Suttles, The Tuscaloosa News, 49 points (1)

Lane Kiffin first to interview for Alabama’s vacant offensive coordinator position

I better stick to writing

Douglas family finding strength three years after son Aaron’s death

Nick Saban the longest tenured Alabama coach since Bear Bryant

GAMEDAY: The growing legacy of T.J. Yeldon


2. Mike Vorel, Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, 46 points (2)

Dying to live: Former UW player J.J. Quinlan survives near-death experiences, finds happiness

No beer here: Wyoming athletics is not considering adding beer sales in sports venues

Wyoming’s Kirkegaard, Krill accomplish firsts in triumphant final drive

Wyoming safety Xavier Lewis recovering from stroke in Colorado hospital

Paradise found: After escaping war, Wyoming freshman Kongbo discovers ‘Paradise’ in Laramie


3. Cory Giger, Altoona Mirror, 41 points (1)

Minor league legends

Chambers’ parents on hand for emotional Curve game

Burger promotion remains big hit with fans

All-Star game hosts commended

Worth the wait: Former Curve manager Leiper reaches big leagues after 29 years in minors


4. Tom Green, Opelika-Auburn News, 39 points

The strength within: Beulah’s David Eastridge battling back from life-threatening accident

Auburn High’s Rashaan Evans: “Alabama the right school for me”

Camp Hill man charged just hours after shooting death of Jakell Mitchell

Healing process beings for family, teammates following murder of Jakell Mitchell

Prep basketball: Glenwood girls hold off Lee-Scott for 1st state title since 2008


5. Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner Herald, 32 points (1)

Updated: 4 UGA football players arrested on theft by deception charges

Unranked Florida runs all over No. 9 Georgia’s playoff hopes

Lending a hand: Richt, former UGA players reach out to create network in wake of Paul Oliver’s death

Better than ever: Todd Gurley’s bid to bring the Heisman back to Georgia

Affair with married co-worker forces resignation of UGA associated AD Crumley


6. Christine Peterson, Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, 29 points

Ancient Journeys: Researchers: Newly discovered Wyoming mule deer herd travels farthest in the world

Anglers remove thousands of burbot during Flaming Gorge ice derby

Cutt Slam in a day: a quick and dirty look at Wyoming’s cutthroat trout

Bowhunting for rabbits gives Wyoming hunters chance for winter sport

Put and take: Game and Fish considers future of bird farms


7. Dustin Dopirak, The Herald-Times (Bloomington, Ind.), 28 points (1)

IU grad student, former rower killed on Malaysian Flight 17

Stanford rains on IU parade, 5-4

DeMuth: I made the right decision

IU defensive coordinator Mallory let go

UL coach calls Lemonis hardworking, deserving


8. Ryan Holmgren, The Minot (N.D.) Daily News, 26 points

Hoffner returns to MSU-Mankato

Recruiting realities: Attracting talent proving biggest challenge for MSU since move to D-II

MSU hammers Crookston for first win of the season

Bryson’s journey: Junior defensive end finally finds fit with Beavers

Hoffner, Minot State football get fresh start


9. Diana C. Nearhos, The Post-Star, 24 points

Calgary Flames official tour Civic Center

Phantoms return

Flames shut out Chicago; win streak at 6

Playing with diabetes: Tayler Vause makes adjustments to keep career on track

Stick taping a blend of preference, habit


10. John Bohnenkamp, The Hawk Eye, 16 points

Fran McCaffery discusses suspension

Hawkeyes at the halfway point

McCabe: “The ball slipped out of my hand:

McCaffery: It’s Aaron White’s team

Hawkeyes have no answers for the Cyclones

(Mary Byrne is managing editor for USA TODAY Sports, APSE second vice president and contest chair. Contact her at