For the second consecutive year, the Opelika-Auburn News sports department won first place in the Breaking News category for papers under-30,000 circulation in the Associated Press Sports Editors annual writing contest.

“These guys work as hard as and harder than any sports staff in the nation,” said Ken Tuck, interim managing editor of the Opelika-Auburn News and regional editor of the BH MediaAlabama Newspaper Group. “They not only work hard, but they produce quality journalism for our newspaper and online readers. It’s an honor to work with such talented and dedicated journalists.”

For his story on Beauregardhead softball coach Brandon Cobb being asked to step down in favor of hiring a female coach to lead the team, whichwaspublished June 1, 2012, sports editor Mike Szvetitz took the category’s top spot. Cobb was immediately reinstated to his head coach position with the Hornets’ softball team, and is leading Beauregard to an undefeated area record and a 16-5 overall mark.

Last year, former Opelika-Auburn News sports reporterDavid Morrison won the breaking news award for his March 2011 story on four Auburn University football players being arrested and charged with armed robbery and subsequently being kicked off the team.

Ryan Wood, the Opelika- Auburn News’ current Auburn University beat reporter, earned three top-three finishes in the under-30,000 writing division, including two second-place finishes.

Wood took second in the feature writing category for his piece on Auburn’s first black scholarship football player James Owens. Wood also finished second in the explanatory writing category for his extensive look into college football’s new kickoff rules.

Wood finished third in the beat writing category, where writers must submit five stories of their choice from their day-to-day beat coverage, including a breaking news story, an event or game coverage story, an enterprise piece and two wild-card entries.

For breaking news, Ryan submitted his story on the firing of Auburnhead football coach Gene Chizik, which happened Nov. 25, the day after the Tigers’ 49-0 Iron Bowl loss in Tuscaloosa, while event/game entry was that blowout Iron Bowl loss to the Crimson Tide.

Wood’s enterprise piece was his story on Chizik’s contract and what it would cost Auburn to fire the head coach, as well as his staff. And the two “wild card” pieces were indepth features about former Auburn basketball player Kenny Gabriel, who was playing for Maccabi Ashdod in Israel and lived through Palestinian missile attacks last November; and about Auburn senior linebacker Ashton Richardson’s journey to becoming a Rhodes Scholarship finalist.

The Opelika-Auburn News’ sports section, as was reported in February, also won the APSE Grand Slam, being named a top-10 section for daily, Sunday, special section and website in its circulation category. This is the second time in three years the Opelika- AuburnNews sports section won the APSE Grand Slam. Last year, sports won the Triple Crown for top-10 daily, Sunday and special sections.


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