Coverage of track coach’s ban wins AP story of the year

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Associated Press national writer Eddie Pells won two awards, including story of the year, in the annual sports journalism contest judged by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

Pells’ story on the investigation leading to track coach Alberto Salazar’s four-year ban for doping offenses earned story of the year in the awards, which were announced Friday.

“The strength in Eddie’s story lies in the details,” one judge said. “The readers learn so much so fast, and the new information just keeps coming. It’s a story most sports fans have some familiarity with, yet it offers surprising – even shocking – detail at times because the reporting is so thorough.”

Pells also won deadline writing for his coverage of the women’s marathon at the track world championships, held at midnight because of Doha’s extreme heat. “Best piece in a crowded field of excellent writing,” a judge said.

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Hockey writer Stephen Whyno won the Grimsley Award for his body of work.

“This entry was unique to its competitors in that it focused on the people behind the scenes of a changing sports landscape — including youth hockey in inner cities and women’s engagement in horse racing — alongside a rollicking feature on the song that created the St. Louis Blues’ Stanley Cup season, ” a judge said. “Reading this entry gave you a smile, and some knowledge.”

Jake Seiner took top honors in feature writing for Mauricio Dubon’s journey from Honduras to Major League Baseball. A judge said, “Seiner continued to overturn nuggets of information while describing the hurdles Dubon had to continue to overcome in his quest to reach the majors. From the $13 cleats, to the bats found on special at a discount department store, you’re internally cheering for Dubon’s success, even though you know he’s already had it.”

Samuel Petrequin and John Leicester, along with photographers Thibault Camus and Christophe Ena, won Package of the Year for coverage of the food, culture and places around the Tour de France. This new category honored team that produced a project that included multiple pieces of content, including stories, photos or photo galleries, video, graphics and interactives. The goal of this category is to award AP’s most ambitious journalism that makes strong use of digital presentation.

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“It’s light, fun and informative,” a judge said. “The sports journalism industry is searching for new ways to tell the story of the day, and introducing you to the faces behind the game, without overwhelming play by play. This package is the epitome of that.”

In the photo contest, David J. Phillip won the best portfolio for his collection of work, which included images of Tiger Woods celebrating at the Masters, Virginia players celebrating its NCAA men’s basketball title and Ryan Lochte returning to swimming.

“Loved the variety of sports included,” said one of the judges. “David has a knack not just for strong reaction, but capturing the exact moment that counted most. That’s what stood out. These were great reaction photos, but they were THE moments you wanted to see. So we all saw Tiger win the Masters, but that photo could be the poster for that moment lives forever.”

Mark Terrill won for best action photo of Phillies catcher J.T. Realmuto having his mask knocked off, and Mark Humphrey for best feature photo of a dog catching a flying disk.