Two Neosho Daily reporters and the paper’s sports editor have taken honors in the Associated Press Managing Editors writing and photojournalism contest.

Whitney Saporito and Todd G. Higdon placed second in spot news for “Joplin, a year later,” a look at the aftermath of the May 22, 2011, tornado that devastated much of that community. The pair also took home third in the same category for “America’s graduates,” stories about President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Joplin High School.

Meanwhile, Daily News sports editor Levi Payton took home second place in sports features writing for his story on a pitcher with a 98-mile an hour fastball.

“I’m so proud of our news team,” said managing editor John Ford. “Todd and Whitney proved they could report quickly and accurately under deadline pressure. And ironically, these two stories happened only a day apart.

“I remember pulling up the ‘America’s graduates’ piece and thinking ‘that’s a winner. Enter that,’” Ford added. “Then I opened the next day’s pages and thought, ‘well, that’s a winner, too.’ I debated which one to enter, then thought ‘Why not both?’

“And our newest addition, Levi Payton, has proved he is not only a go-getter in gathering game stories, but in getting the human story as well.”

Former Daily News sports editor Cody Thorn also placed third in the contest, in the spot sports category, for his story “Northwest Missouri names Gipson women’s coach.” Thorn presently works for the St. Joseph News-Press.