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Hazelwood earns fourth OPSWA Writer of the Year award in five years

By Norwalk Reflector staff • Updated Apr 17, 2018 at 10:48 PM

COLUMBUS — The Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association held its annual state meeting Tuesday and announced the 2017 writing and photography contest award winners.

Earning Sportswriter of the Year honors in their respective divisions were Jon Spencer (Mansfield News Journal) in Division I, Mark Hazelwood (Sandusky Register) in Div. II, Rob McCurdy (Marion Star) in Div. III and Todd Stumpf (Medina Post) in Div. IV.

The contest, which received 522 entries from 58 contestants, consisted of articles and photos from the 2017 calendar year.

In total, Hazelwood earned six writing awards for the Register and two writing awards for the Norwalk Reflector, giving him eight total. Hazelwood has served as the Sports Editor at both newspapers since August 2017.

For the Reflector, Hazelwood placed second and fourth in the Investigative/Enterprise category. Taking second place was a two-part series on the Norwalk tennis dynasty, while the growth of soccer in Huron County placed fourth.

This is the fourth time in the past five years Hazelwood has earned Writer of the Year honors.

For the Register, he took first place for Investigative/Enterprise for a two-part series on the continuing decline of participation in high school wrestling. Hazelwood's other first-place award was for column, for an opinion piece on Sandusky quarterback Ja'Vez Alexander being a Mr. Football finalist.

Hazelwood placed 1-2-3 in best column, with second place being on the sudden death of his former teacher and Norwalk wrestling coach, Denny Corrigan, and third for the practice methods of the Vermilion boys basketball team.

Also for the Register, Hazelwood placed third for feature story on the career of Sandusky basketball standout Jayrese Williams, and third place for game story on Sandusky football surviving an upset scare at Norwalk.

Also in Div. III, former Reflector sports editor Jake Furr won four awards during his tenure in Norwalk. He took first for a feature on South Central's Michael Ponchel, and fourth for a feature on New London's Jacob Molnar.

Furr also placed third in news for Norwalk pole vaulting, and first for game story on Edison's track standout Bryce Ostheimer.

Also from the Reflector, photographer Richard Russell placed fourth for game action photo from a Norwalk-Clyde soccer match.

The OPSWA membership stands at 171 writers and photographers around the state, which marks the most in its 45-year history. OPSWA members serve as judges in the contest.

Founded in 1972, the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association works to support and enhance the coverage of high school sports in Ohio and to recognize superior writing among sports journalists. In 2010, the OPSWA partnered with the Ohio High School Athletic Association to create a website, establish electronic communications and increase its membership and recognition.

Certificates were handed out to contest placers, while the Writers of the Year each received an inscribed plaque with pen. The contest was judged by 38 OPSWA members from around the state.

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