By Robert Gagliardi

APSE Third Vice President

Cody Stavenhagen of the Tulsa World won first place in the Associated Press Sports Editors 2016 contest in Beat Writing category for the 30,000-75,000 circulation division.

Stavenhagen won for his coverage of University of Oklahoma football.. 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.

Stavenhagen beat out runner-up Chris Thomas of the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel. Tom Schad of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., placed third.

Sports editors in the Under 30,000 category submitted 69 Beat Writing entries. The contest is open to APSE members. Click here to join.

Contest chair Jeff Rosen and fellow APSE officers Tommy Deas, John 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 beat writing category judges a portfolio of five stories by a single author that shows authoritative, newsy and innovative coverage of a beat. Entries included at least one breaking news story; one event or game coverage story; one enterprise piece and two wild-card stories from any of the aforementioned categories (or other stories or analysis related to the beat).

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

  1. Cody Stavenhagen, Tulsa World, 49 points (3 first-place votes)

           How three strong Miami women helped Thomas find belonging in Norman

           Something has to change  

           When it comes to Mayfield and Lubbock, nothing is simple

           Record books rewritten in Mayfield’s return to Lubbock

           Twice arrested on domestic violence complaints, Westbook’s compliated route to stardom

  1.   Chris Thomas, Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel, 48 points (1 first-place vote)

           Student blackmailed ex-South-Doyal coach, wife over ‘compromising photographs’

           Gibbs football helps Merrell family heal

           Maryville QB Austin Ensley works to regain trust

           Bearden softball tries to rebuild with questions still unanswered

           Fulton boys hold off Brainerd rally to win state title

  1.  Tom Schad, The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn., 34 points

          Norvell praises Tiger spirit in 48-44 defeat of Houston

          Memphis football embraces virtual reality

          Shots fired at Tiger player’s car after incident with teammate

          All access: Inside Memphis’ Lambuth football camp, dodgeball and all

          Riding along on a Memphis football recruiting trip

     4t. Michael Bonner, The Clarion-Ledger (Jackson, Miss.), 33 points (1 first-place vote)

          Sources: John Cohen to be named MSU’s next athletic director

          MSU caps up-and-down season with blowout Egg Bowl win

       Mother knows best: the lives of student-athlete moms

       Relentless: Peter Sirmon’s journey from Walla Walla to MSU

       Can a new court help fix Mississippi State basketball?

   4t. Christian Caple, Tacoma (Wash.) News Tribune, 33 points

        Tacoma native hired as University of Washington athletic director

        How Michael Porter’s friendship with Lorenzo Romar landed him on UW staff

        Pac-12 champs: Huskies dominate Colorado

        The making of Markelle Fultz

        Fans have reason to be irked by Pac-12 Network’s emphasis on localized content

   4t. David Caraviello, Post & Courier (Charleston, S.C.), 33 points

        For Muschamp and USC, winning back the state starts with winning over high school coaches

        Basketball celebrity

        Birmingham Bowl’s timeless Legion Field may be running out of time

        Sioux Falls stunner

        Suspended USC basketball player arrested in May on Marijuana charge

  1. Jacob Thorpe, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Wash.), 30 points

        WSU defensive lineman Robert Barber expelled

        Washington State beats Oregon in convincing fashion

        Gabe Marks is an oratorical All-American

        After testicular cancer diagnoses and losing his parents, Sorensen seeing his way through

        Martin rises from The Muck to excel at Washington State

  1. Brent Briggeman, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.), 29 points

        Air Force football legend Dee Dowis dies in Georgia traffic accident

        Policy shift allows Air Force Academy grads to pursue pro sports without 2-year commitment

        Grieving Hayden Graham overcomes emotion to lift Air Force past New Mexico

        Air Force noted academics, athletics and stressed broad reach in pitch to Big 12

        Air Force adds women’s boxing to keep up with new gender equity rules in combat roles

  1. Aaron Kasinitz, The Patriot News/, 26 points (1 first-place vote)

        NFL’s Rooney Rule hasn’t fixed black coaching issue even as focus turns to women

        Eagles’ Nigel Bradham broke hotel employee’s nose on Miami Beach, police say

        Despite renewed spirit, Eagles left to pick up pieces after latest heartbreak

        Young, black or new to NFL: Time to fight for a cause or try to fit in?

        Eagles OT Lane Johnson’s saga, and what it says about modern-day drug testing

  1. Donnie Webb, Syracuse Media Group, 15 points

         Fowler, Cortland leave hearts on field, but Falcons gut out first win

         After son’s death, a father steps in to train two-time state wrestling champ

         High schools clash with youth hockey over Section III’s best players

         Nottingham players: I love my country; we are not a group of delinquents

         Survey: High school coaches say dealing with parents has never been worse