The Nogales International and its reporters won a total of 17 journalism awards, including eight first-place prizes, in the Arizona Newspapers Association’s 2018 Better Newspaper Contest.

The awards were announced Saturday evening in Chandler at the conclusion of the ANA Fall Convention. The Nogales International competed in the division for non-dailies with a circulation under 3,500, with judging by the Utah Newspapers Association. The competition included work produced from May 2017 though April 2018.

In the collective categories, the NI won first place in Editorial Page Excellence, as well as in Special Sections for the Graduations 2017 feature.

The paper also took third place in General Excellence, as well as in Reporting and Newswriting Excellence.

In the individual categories, former reporter Kendal Blust won first place in Best Sustained Coverage or Series for her coverage of the murder trial of Border Patrol Agent Lonnie Swartz.

Blust also took second place in Investigative Reporting for a pair of stories on discipline at the Nogales Police Department: “NPD officer accused of abuse avoids demotion” and “Former NPD spokesman settles dispute over firing.” She was the third-place prizewinner in Best Sports Story for “Samantha Schadler is running her own race.”

Former reporter Arielle Zionts and managing editor Jonathan Clark shared two awards, including a first-place prize in Best Team, Sport or Sports Beat Coverage for a package of stories on the Nogales High School baseball team’s title run in 2017, including “The drought is over: Nogales Apaches win state baseball championship” and “Apaches win one for their community.

Clark and Zionts also shared a third-place award in Best News Story for “NPD officer killed by suspected carjacker” and “Suspect’s carjacking spree began east of town.”

Zionts was the first-place winner in Best News Photograph for her shot of a courtroom arrest in “Defendant jailed without bond.” She also won the top prize in Best Feature Photograph for her front-page portrait of local resident Lester Williams in “Every day is dress-up day for Nogales man.”

Clark won first place in Best Column, Analysis or Commentary for the editorial  “UniSource’s big blackout secret” and took second place in the

same category with “Reach Out.”

He also won first place in Best Feature Photo Layout or Photo Story with a package of stories from the 2017 Día de los Muertos celebration in Nogales. Blust finished second in the same category with “Hard at work in Santa Cruz County.”

In the Best Sports Photograph category, Clark finished second with a shot of the 2017 state champion baseball team from NHS taking a victory lap through the city, and came in third with a photo of a Rio Rico High School cross-country runner sprinting past an opponent at the finish line.