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The Buffalo News received 18 awards, including seven first-place honors, from the New York State Associated Press Association at its annual symposium and awards banquet Wednesday in Syracuse.

The News earned the most awards in the largest circulation category in the annual writing, graphics and photo contest, competing against papers such as the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and Newsday.

Graphic artist Daniel Zakroczemski swept all three prizes in the graphic illustration category, while Terry Lew took top honors in the spot news presentation category, and Christina Wilemski received the first-place honor for non-spot news presentation.

Zakroczemski, who also took first place in his category in 2012, has won at least one award in eight of the last nine years.

He took top honors this time for his African folk art-inspired illustration that accompanied a review of Joe Mozingo’s book, “The Fiddler on Pantico Run.”

Lew won for his layout accompanying the story about Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, while Wilemski won for her design accompanying a story about daredevil Nik Wallenda’s high-wire walk across Niagara Falls.

Kevin Walter, the paper’s deputy editorial page editor, took top honors in editorials for “Shameful Problem,” a commentary on the consequences of wrongful convictions. Third place went to editorial writer Dawn Bracely’s “FAA Rolling the Dice.”

Photographer Sharon Cantillon won the portraits and personalities competition with “Photographer and His Brides,” an image of veteran bridal photographer Ettore Porreca with his vintage photos.

Reporter Lou Michel topped the beat reporting category with “Focus: Attack on Witnesses,” which examined the horrors of retribution by criminal suspects.

Reporter Matthew Spina won the in-depth reporting category with “Today’s Mental Health Squad: The Police.”

News staff writers captured two of the three spots in the features category. Charity Vogel was second with “The Kids Are All Right: Having Five Children With Autism Shapes the Greenan Household,” while Phil Fairbanks was third with “Called to Defend a Sept. 11 Planner,” a profile of Buffalo criminal defense lawyer James P. Harrington.

Senior sports columnist Jerry Sullivan captured two second-place awards, one for sports with “Spur of the Moment,” his recounting of the Bills’ miraculous come-from-behind victory in the 1993 wild-card playoff game against the Houston Oilers and one for sports column with “An Unexpected Olympian,” his spotlight on female weight-lifter Holley Mangold.

Other awards went to copy editor Barbara Sullivan, second place in the brightest headline category for “Reel Possibilities”; arts editor Jeff Simon, second place in arts and entertainment writing for “Creativity Should Not Suffer in Wake of Theater Massacre,” a commentary on the mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater; photographer Robert Kirkham, second place in features with “Darting Deer”; and Lauren Mariacher and Keith McShea, second place in blogging for the sports blog “Prep Talk.”

email: citydesk@buffnews.com