First place: Cecil Hurt, The Tuscaloosa News

About this entry: Cecil Hurt provides insight on the ongoings in the world of sports, often illuminating what’s going on off the field that readers need to know.

Read online: Bill Battle has some phone calls to make, Nothing wrong with a little exuberance, John Servati understood what was important in life

Follow Cecil on Twitter @CecilHurt

Cecil Hurt knows his beat, and he knows how to write, which is a potent combination. Top-notch columns that strike a lot of chords.

Second place: Tim Miller, Cape Cod Times

About this entry: As a film critic and professor, Tim Miller ties each column back to movies but focuses primarily on musings of everyday life. From the last class of a semester, to a visit with mom, and reflecting on his son’s life, Miller’s ruminations have a lasting mark on readers.

Read online: My son is a Jedi, It happens every semester, Conversations with a squirrel

Follow Tim on Twitter @TimMillerCritic

What I love about these columns is the writer’s ability to base them in his beat — the movies — but go way beyond your standard movie coverage. Wonderful pieces.

Third place: Dave Bakke, The State Journal-Register

About this entry: Dave Bakke’s profiles on community members is a mix of inspiring, moving, and quirky. His look inside the life of a Vietnam vet searching for a lost friend, a library worker who has become a town fixture, and a high school athlete struggling to afford the chance of a college education highlight not only his writing abilities, but how he personally tries to improve the lives of those who share their stories with him.

Read online: Guilt drives Vietnam vet to The Wall, Southeast senior hopes to find home at Drake, Well-known Springfield man will be missed

Follow Dave on Twitter @DaveBakkeSJR

A nice touch, particularly when writing about the ordinary.