By Robert Gagliardi

APSE Third Vice President

Austin Meek of The Register-Guard in Eugene, Ore., won first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2016 contest in the Columns category for the 30,000-75,000 circulation category.

Meek won for his portfolio of five columns. He will be presented a first-place plaque at the 2017 APSE banquet. The banquet and awards dinner will conclude the APSE Summer Conference, which takes place June 26-29 at The Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans.

Will Sammon of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., and Kirk Wessler of the Peoria Journal Star tied for second place.

Sports editors in the 30,00075,000 category submitted 71 entries in the column writing category. The contest is open to APSE members. Click here to join.

Contest chair Jeff Rosen and fellow APSE officers Tommy Deas, Bednarowski and Robert Gagliardi 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 February, preliminary judges at the APSE Winter Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., and off-site around the country, 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 one 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 Columns category is judged based on style, writing quality, originality and local appeal.

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

  1. Austin Meek,The Register-Guard, 47 points (1 first-place vote)

           Willie Taggart isn’t Chip Kelly, and that’s good news

           Oregon Ducks look for a port in the storm

           Go live, not tape delay? That’s rich

           A reign long in the making

           One last run to the finish line among friends

     2t.   Will Sammon,The Clarion-Ledger, 41 points (1 first-place vote)

            Student-athletes lose in satellite camp ruling

            Let’s not have 45-0 high school baseball games

            Akers remains a class act throughout process

            Only positives come from new pitch limits

            Don’t count out MRA quarterback Hayden Davis

     2t.   Kirk Wessler,  Peoria Journal Star, 41 points (1 first-place vote)

            Villanova had right stuff in epic title game

            Shaun Livingston and the friendship worth more than $1 million

            On Kaepernick, slobs and the national anthem

            Ben Zobrist’s magical MVP World Series

            Peoria High state champs lay waste to rivals, conventional wisdom

    4t.   Paul Klee, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 39 points (3 first-place votes)

           John Elway recalls a White House trip gone bad

           CSU football player not defined by Aurora theater shooting

           Broncos’ Super Bowl parade a big slice of ‘Colfax and Heaven’

           Aqib Talib tells real truth on Donald Trump’s ‘locker room’ comments

           In domestic violence case, Colorado Rockies do the right thing

    4t. Ed Hardin, Greensboro (N.C.) News & Record, 39 points

         Another lesson in boater safety, summer fun

         UNC v NCAA is just getting started

         Swofford provides the voice that needed to be heard

         Panthers, Charlotte deserved a day off

         Eastern NC continues to wade through flooding leftover from Matthew

  1.  David Ramsey, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 28 points

         Goodbye, Carson Bird

         Brandon Marshall takes brave stand while kneeling during national anthem

         Lochte told a lie America would believe

         Leave Hope Solo alone. She belongs in front of our American soccer net

         Yes, Muhammad Ali inspired and infuriated. That’s what great Americans do

  1.  Bud Poliquin, Syracuse Media Group, 27 points

         Secret Service has some questions after Carrier Dome marriage proposal

         Mark Coyle’s abrupt departure from Syracuse to Minnesota has bad whiff to it

         Jim Boeheim was just being honest about Tyler Roberson, he was also being tactless

         Syracuse, Louisville chose same punishment; but shenanigans were vastly different

         Pearl Washington will forever be a Syracuse Orangeman

    8t.  Frank Bodani, York (Pa.) Daily Record/Sunday News, 23 points

          More than wins, losses for Orioles’ Jack Fisher

          Memories of a friend still linger

          Penn State to the NBA and so much more

          Penn State’s Andre Collins is ‘saving’ NFL lives

          Travis Brown made a positive attitude his job  

          

   8t.   Mark Story, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, 23 points

          Childhood adversity drives EKU football standout Justin Adekoya

          Reaching out to a dying fan, Kentucky Wildcats kicker may have been handed destiny

          At Ali’s prayer service, the faces of the world come to say farewell

          Even Bear Bryant might have been fired by current SEC standards

          Ulis’ season best by UK point guard in Rupp Arena era

  1.   Pete Iorizzo, Times Union (Albany, N.Y.), 22 points

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