INDIANAPOLIS — Tim Dahlberg, Eddie Pells and Jimmy Golen's combined efforts earned them story of the year honors in the annual writing contest for AP staffers judged by Associated Press Sports Editors at their winter meeting.
The judges praised the trio's story on the Boston Marathon bombing.
"Simple, but powerful lead draws the reader in and the vignettes of the individual stories effectively humanize a national story and provide personal insight into a national story," the judges said in their comments. "The candor of those interviewed elevated the story's impact. The writing was tight, clear and moved the story along at a quick pace."
Other contest winners included:
— Sports writer Howard Fendrich, deadline writing, for his story on Andy Murray's win at Wimbledon.
— Sports writer John Marshall, enterprise writing, for his story on how Phoenix Coyotes enforcer Paul Bissonnette adopted Twitter reluctantly but became an unlikely star on the social media network.
— Sports writer Jim Vertuno, feature writing, for his story on a blind girl becoming one of the best pole vaulters in Texas.
— Sports writer Dan Gelston, the Grimsley award, with his body of work that included Hulk Hogan's return to the ring after three decades, NASCAR moving ahead with concussion awareness, and the Lokomotiv hockey team recovering in Amish country from a plane crash. Gelston "did a wonderful job of reporting and writing in the narrative about the Lokomotiv hockey team," the judges said. "The piece was poignant, lending insight into the routine the players follow before every game to keep the spirit of the deceased alive. Also appreciated the details about the arduous conditioning program they underwent in the United States.
"Concussion was more than just the expected one-sided diatribe but actually offered insights on both sides of the issue with some startling quotes," the judges said. "Hulk Hogan story was a fun read that actually made him sound interesting."
Photo awards went to:
— Mark J. Terrill, best portfolio.
This is the fifth consecutive year Terrill, a Los Angeles-based photographer, has won the AP's Thomas V. diLustro award for best portfolio. His package this year included an award-wining image of Pablo Cesar Cano landing a punch against Ashley Theophane during a fight in Las Vegas; NLCS action; NBA, NHL Hockey and the BNP Paribas Open Tennis at Indian Wells.
"Mark's portfolio was the most well-rounded portfolio we viewed. His selection of work represented great action and captured strong emotions of his subjects. The photographer showed great range, including excellent whimsical shots and a beautiful feature photographs," the judges said.
"Very strong range of work."
— The late Dave Martin captured best sports action.
Martin, who was based in Montgomery, Alabama, captured the sports action photo of California guard Layshia Clarendon looking at the ball as Louisville forward Sara Hammond shoots in the second half of a national semifinal at the Women's Final Four of the NCAA tournament. The 59-year-old Martin suffered an apparent heart attack and died early on Jan. 1 after working the sidelines of Texas A&M's 52-48 win over Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl game in Atlanta.
"This photo was an action shot that happened to tell so much of the story," the judges said. "Literally, all eyes were on that moment. The photo's composition heightened the anticipation of the moment captured so well."
— Martin and Marcio Sanchez shared honors in the sports feature photo category.
The San Francisco-based Sanchez captured feature honors with his photo of 49ers safety Eric Reid being introduced before a game against the Carolina Panthers; Martin received the feature award for his shot of Connecticut players celebrating with coach Geno Auriemma after defeating Louisville 93-60 in the national championship game.
"These two images were extremely compelling. One captures the calm before the storm and the chaos after the storm," the judges said. "Both photos capture so much of the emotion of the moment that we felt strangely they should share the best feature photo award."