By Mike Sherman, APSE President

Chris Anderson of the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune and Jesse Newell of the Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal are the co-winners of the Associated Press Sports Editors 2014 contest in Feature writing for the 30,001-75,000 circulation category.

Anderson won for “Finally Forgiven,” a feature on the life of former Villanova basketball star Howard Porter. Newell won for “Life-changing son,” a story on how Kansas nose guard Keon Stowers overcame a childhood surrounded by “guns, gangs, sex.” Both will be presented first-place plaques 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.

Anderson and Newell tied in APSE judges polling with 42 points each, edging third-place finisher Tom Noie of the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune. Sports editors in the 30,000 to 75,000 category submitted 118 feature 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 Feature category is judged on human interest, reader interest, quality of writing and thoroughness of reporting. Each member news organization was permitted up to three entries in this category.

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

 Finally forgiven: The Howard Porter story

     (tie) Jesse Newell, Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal, 42 points (1 first-place vote)

Life-changing son: Kansas’ Keon Stowers alters family cycle

  1.  Tom Noie, South Bend (Ind.) Tribune, 39 points (2 first-place votes)

The other side of Notre Dame coaching icon Digger Phelps

  1.  Mark Emmert, Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram (1 first-place vote)

Former Sea Dogs catcher battered but far from broken

  1.     Vince Nairn, Wilmington (N.C.) StarNews, 36 points

Wrestler doesn’t let life’s pains pin him to mat

  1. (tie) Matt Daniels, The News-Gazette (Champaign, Ill.), 32 points

All-Area Boys’ Basketball: POY Michael FInke

    (tie) Austin Meek, The Register-Guard (Eugene, Ore.), 32 points

Poignant memories of an icy crash

  1. Chadd Cripe, Idaho Statesman, 26 points

Bryan Harsin ‘living his dream’ as Boise State coach

  1.  David Teel, Daily Press (Hampton Roads, Va.), 23 points

From demented to soulful, Buzz Williams brings many sides to Virginia Tech basketball

  1.  David Dorsey, The News-Press (Fort Myers, Fla.), 19 points

Bat makers look to hit home runs with players

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