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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sports >  Outdoors

Outdoor Writing Contest 2019 winners announced

A story by Gabrielle Wold, a sophomore at Cheney High School, has been judged the best of 54 entries in The Spokesman-Review’s 2019 Outdoor Writing Contest for high school students.

Her story, “My First Day in the Field: A True Story” recounts her first hunt, with all its adjacent ups and downs.

A teaser: “I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing. My dad saw it, too. ‘Wait, no,’ he amended, ‘I think that’s actually a … yep, that’s a llama.’ ”

One of this year’s judges, Spokane poet and cofounder of Scablands Lit Ellen Welcker, wrote of Wold’s piece, “This gifted storyteller made me laugh and brought me in close to an experience I’ve never had (hunting) with skill and just the right amount of detail. Best of all, a tender parent-child relationship is on full display in this excellent retelling of an adventure together. As good on paper as I’m sure it is aloud.”

Runners-up in the 33rd annual contest include:

“Alive,” by Teresa Johnson, a sophomore at The Community School. Johnson’s poem tackles the complexity of taking an animal’s life. S-R reporter Rebecca White, another contest judge, said, “I thought there was some really great visualization … It also tells a story that feels unique to the author’s lived experience … Reading it I could really imagine the scene between her and her father at the river.”

“Wolves,” by Olivia Grabowski, a junior at Central Valley High School. This brief poem “captures the mystery of a howling wolf with wonderful concision,” writes novelist and S-R columnist Shawn Vestal, the third judge.

“The language is compressed and powerful, the lines are terse and evocative,” Vestal said of Grabowski’s poem.

“A Walk in the Woods,” by Mead High School senior Danielle Wolf, rounds out the top four finalists. Wolf’s magical, and somewhat mysterious, account of a boy’s encounter in the woods with a mysterious stag “blends elements of the realistic and the fantastic, is imaginative and vividly written,” Vestal said. “It captures some of what’s magical about the real outdoors through tale that focuses on a magical forest.”

Other writers whose entries made the final round of judging include Alex Petersen, Taylor Voelker and Alexander Hagood of East Valley High School; Jordan Mattox and Josh Braun of Mead High School; and Blake Heather, home school.

Wold will receive $50 for first place. Each of the runners-up will get $35.

The four finalists will be entered in the Outdoor Writers Association of America Norm Strung Youth Writing Awards contest, open to outdoor writing published in 2019 by junior high or high school students.

National winners, who can earn up to $200, will be announced next spring.

Natalie Scott, a winner in last year’s S-R contest, won first place in the senior prose category in the 2019 Norm Strung Youth Awards.

In 33 years, 47 finalists from The S-R contest have won national awards. The contest is limited to entrants from the newspaper’s circulation area. Details of the 2020 S-R contest will be announced in September.

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