28th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest Results

DALLAS — Frequent past winners Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com and Christopher Walsh of BamaCentral.com joined David Hale of ESPN.com and Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated in claiming first-place honors in the 28th Annual FWAA Best Writing Contest. Four writers claimed awards in two categories and one writer took awards in three categories.

Maisel’s winning entry in Column on the late, legendary writer Dan Jenkins drew this response from the judge: “Love everything about it (the column). It’s a tall order to memorialize a writing legend. You tend to overwrite to impress. This one had just the right tone.”

Walsh’s expansive story in Enterprise explained how current-day Tide Coach Nick Saban rates versus the top coaches in the history of the game. From the judge: “Exhaustive research piece on how Alabama’s Nick Saban stacks up against the all-time field of great coaches. Well-written, with excellent perspective on the intangibles that make Saban one of the best.”

In the Game Story Category, Dellenger completely captured the essence of LSU’s CFP semifinal victory over Oklahoma after a deadly game-day plane crash involving the daughter-in-law of LSU’s offensive coordinator. From the judge: “Writer depicts the emotions in LSU’s blistering of Oklahoma in a national semifinal that was tinged with tragedy. Great job of telling the story of the day and game that was like no other in LSU history.”

And Hale’s Feature Story on Arkansas State Coach Blake Anderson and his loss of wife Wendy to cancer prompted this from the judge: “Powerful. So detailed. After reading it, you want to go hug Blake Anderson, while wishing you’d known Wendy.”

Ryan McGee of ESPN.com picked up a second, third and an honorable mention in his trifecta. Dellenger, besides his first-place award, also picked up a second. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports, David Ubben of The Athletic and Dave Wilson of ESPN.com each had two honorable mention awards.

First, second and third-place awards receive cash prizes as well as certificates. Honorable mentions receive certificates.

To read the first-place stories and a bio on the writers, click on their names below.


First Place — Ross Dellenger, Sports Illustrated

Second Place — Glenn Guilbeau, USA TODAY Network-Louisiana

Third Place — James Crepea, The Oregonian

Honorable Mention — John Bohnenkamp, HawkeyeMaven; Pete DiPrimio, IUhoosiers.com; David Ubben, The Athletic


First Place David Hale, ESPN.com

Second Place Ross Dellenger, Sports Illustrated

Third Place Nate Mink, Syracuse Post-Standard/Syracuse.com

Honorable Mention Ryan McGee, ESPN.com; Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports; Dave Wilson, ESPN.com; Andrea Adelson, ESPN.com; Max Olson, The Athletic



First Place Ivan Maisel, ESPN.com

Second Place Ryan McGee, ESPN.com

Third Place — David Teel, Daily Press, Newport News, Va.

Honorable Mention Anthony Gimino, AllSportsTucson.com; Pete Thamel, Yahoo Sports; Kirk Bohls, Austin American-Statesman


First Place — Christopher Walsh, BamaCentral.com

Second Place — Stewart Mandel,The Athletic

Third Place – Ryan McGee, ESPN.com

Honorable Mention — Shehan Jeyarajah, Dave Campbell’s Texas Football; David Ubben, The Athletic; Dave Wilson, ESPN.com