By Mike Sherman, APSE President

Pete Iorizzo of the Times Union in Albany, N.Y., took first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2014 contest in Column Writing category in the 30,001 to 75,000 circulation category.

Iorizzo, whose entry included a column on a high school softball coach fired for a retweet that contained the n-word and the former Skidmore hockey player who defended Alex Rodriguez in court, will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2015 APSE banquet. The banquet and awards dinner concludes the APSE Conference June 24-27 at The Westgate Hotel in San Diego, Calif.

He edged Tom Musick of the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake, Ill., and Geoff Calkins, of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn, who tied for second place. Sports editors in the 30,000 to 75,000 category submitted 62 Column Writing entries.The contest is open to APSE members. Click here to join.

Contest chair Mary Byrne of USA TODAY Sports numbered each entry, assuring they had been stripped of headlines, graphics, bylines and any other element that would identify the writer or news organization.

In early February, preliminary judges at the APSE Winter Conference in Lake Buena Vista, 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 down to 1 point for a 10th-place vote. 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 Column Writing category is judged based on style, writing quality, originality and local appeal. There is no restriction on subject matter and no requirement that the column appears regularly. Each news organization is permitted two entries in this category.

The top 10 is listed below with links to writers’ Twitter pages, APSE member websites and winning entries.

  1. Pete Iorizzo, Times Union (Albany, N.Y.), 46 points, 3 first-place votes

Not all ‘racists’ created equally

A-Rod lawyer discusses Skidmore hockey past

Race for recruits outpaces reason

Coburn himself right to the end

Union’s senior class sharp off the ice, too

   2. (tie) Tom Musick, Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, Ill.) 44 points, 2 first-place votes

Blackhawks’ thrill ride ends on somber note

Marian Central beats McHenry in rivalry game, right?

C.J. Fiedorowicz embraces draft hysteria

Hawks’ dirty hits worse than loss

Passion drives lifelong Wrigley ballhawk

     (tie) Geoff Calkins, The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tenn.) 44 points

For Larry Conlee, golf and kindness were the bread of life

Griz end up joyful after brief stop at heartbreak

Pro Football Hall of Fame induction bittersweet for Memphian Claude Humphrey

Domestic violence hits home

‘Remarkable Memphis kid’ Donte Davis brings out best in Memphians

  1.  Jennifer Gish, Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) 36 points, 1 first-place vote

Cancer fight allows player to inspire others

Penn St. chooses bad time to forget

Acceptance of rage cheapening sports

Rising highest from a fall

Domestic violence issue won’t just go away

  1. (tie) Bill Kemp, The Ledger (Lakeland, Fla.) 34 points

Recalling When Al Kaline Ruled

It’s Not Just About Hoops With McGriff

Play Sparks Memories Of a Comforting Voice

It’s Time To Lift Veil of Silence

Lights, Camera, No Action

         (tie) Todd Porter, The Repository (Canton, Ohio), 34 points

They don’t make them like Jeff Hite anymore

Hite firing casts long shadow

Rice suspension puts cloud over NFL’s greatest weekend

Don’t let Karageorge die in vain

Father’s Day to most, ‘day of remembrance’ for Lower

  1. (tie) Thom Loverro, The Washington Times, 25 points

In midst of Super Bowl spectacle, the wreckage of human lives

FBI files add to mystery of Sonny Liston, but Ali’s legacy untarnished

Injured hand didn’t keep Scott Christopher from a life of baseball and art

Pitchman to pariah: Last year, NFL used Ray Rice jersey in women’s apparel ad

Matt Williams’ best-laid plans could put Nationals in ground

         (tie) Steve Solloway, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, 25 points

Bruins legend Brad Park keeps it humble while living in Maine

A fast break away from Maine men’s basketball

Redskins nickname should be changed

Marathon bombing survivor lost part of her leg, and discovered her voice

Inspiring, selfless Travis Roy to receive prestigious Spirit of Courage Award

  1. Kerry Benefield, Santa Rosa (Calif.) Press Democrat, 24 points

Muting protest by Mendocino girls is an opportunity lost

Who gets to decide who is worthy of our charity?

Heart of a Dragon

Empire hockey fans flock to kiss, touch, see NHL Stanley Cup

Tomales Braves exemplify synergy

  1.  Aaron McFarling, The Roanoke (Va.) Times, 18 points

It’s a head-scratcher to have Tech’s Raines sitting out

Terps, ACC breakup complete

Instant replay is already a bad call

Crab theft story good in a pinch

This team is too hard to watch

(Mike Sherman is sports editor of The Oklahoman and president of APSE. Contact him at msherman@oklahoman.com or 405-475-3164.)