First place: Staff, The Gaston Gazette

About this entry: The Gaston Gazette’s sports section is small but mighty and features great design and wonderful use of illustration.

Packs quite a wallop in just 4 pages. Loved the illustration concept/alt-story form presentation on the 6-9 basketball player taking his team to the state finals. That’s a technique a lot of papers could emulate to get strong impact even with limited space. Lots of little touches – connection with social media, local sponsorship of key content – you don’t always see even in larger papers.

Second place: Staff, Ames Tribune

About this entry: The Ames Tribune’s sports section is impactful and knowledgeable and the writing shines through.

This paper makes the most of its solid lead writers, many color positions and expertise on Iowa State to give readers a product with impact.

Third place: Roger Metzger and James Haynes, The Times-Reporter

About this entry: The Times-Reporter’s James Haynes and Roger Metzger love for sports comes through in their sports section, which is interesting, informative and wonderfully executed.

This staff does a thorough job covering local sports, exemplified by a solid 40-page special football tab preview that must have been a keeper all season for fans in the region.