Three Tampa Bay Times sports writers were selected among the nation's best of 2012 by the Associated Press Sports Editors last week.
The Times competes in the largest circulation category, more than 175,000 daily, against major newspapers and websites. The top five in each category will be ranked and announced in April.
Gary Shelton was named among the top 10 sports columnists for submissions that included Lightning founder Phil Esposito talking about his daughter's death, Warren Sapp's bankruptcy, Gabrielle Douglas' Olympic gymnastics performance and two related to the Bucs, including the firing of coach Raheem Morris. Shelton won first place in the competition in 1995 and 2009.
Joey Knight, who covers high schools primarily in Hillsborough County, was selected among the top 10 beat writers for submissions that included a profile of the Florida High School Athletic Association investigator in the Armwood football case, Tampa Prep basketball coach Joe Fenlon finally winning a state title, the suicide of former Middleton football player O.J. Murdock, the Durant softball team's bond with a mother dying of cancer, and a former Gulf quarterback who ran into trouble with drugs.
John C. Cotey produced one of the top 10 feature stories. It covered Lakewood High's Shaquem Griffin, who became one of the area's top football players and track athletes despite missing the fingers on one hand because of a birth defect.