First place: Chris Anderson, The Herald-Tribune

About this entry: Chris Anderson proves that sports writing goes beyond the field with intimate portraits of Chris Ball and Howard Porter. His best work also includes a hard hitting title IX violation by a football coach at a Florida school.

Read Chris’ full Howard Porter coverage online here. / Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisA0213

Clearly, the best in a very large field. All of the entries show depth and intelligence. The Chris Ball feature brought tears to my eyes. The Title IX reporting was hard-hitting. The range of work is what you want to see in a sports writer of the year.

Second place: Travis Mewhirter, formerly of Northwest Florida Daily News

About this entry: Travis Mewhirter writes not about players, but about people. He captures the optimism in a child athlete who lost his leg and a young baseball player determined to return to the diamond after a battle with brain cancer. Additionally, he highlights one coach’s effort to send young athletes to college.

Very nice touch on all three features. Travis finds the humanity in sports that make so many love the games. He recognizes what happens off the field brings meaning to the competition. Not enough sports writers understand this.

Third place: Katy Bergen, The Herald-Tribune

About this entry: Katy Bergen reports from the sidelines of life, recounting a woman’s attempt to conquer her fear of the water, runner returning to the Boston Marathon after 2013’s attack, and a trackless track team’s climb to success.

Read online: here, here and here

Follow Katy on Twitter @KatyBergen

Women’s fear of swimming is told well through the lens of a segregated Florida’s past. The little track team that could is a nice tale. Boston Marathon story sags a bit, but the writing throughout the entries is strong.