Tehachapi News and The Bakersfield Californian swept the sports photo and features story categories in the 34th annual George F. Gruner Awards, which honor the best work in Central Valley print journalism.

The two newspapers were recognized Wednesday night during a brief awards ceremony held via Zoom.

"Our talented journalists, once again, have demonstrated their commitment to serving our readers and communities by covering important news and information," Executive Editor Christine L. Peterson said. "It's nice to be recognized by peers in our profession."

Photographer Alex Horvath won first place for a sports photo that captured cross-country athletes running against a cloud-filled sky. Nick Smirnoff's photo of mutton busting at a junior rodeo won first place in the same category for Tehachapi News.

In the features story category, The Californian's Steven Mayer won first place for "Bakersfield officer lauded for his dedication in finding hit-and-run suspect in fatal crash." Meanwhile, Claudia Elliott's story "A photographic legacy stirs memories" published in Tehachapi News won first place in the same category for weekly newspapers.

Each newspaper could submit only one entry in each of seven categories.

Entering in the category of large daily newspapers, The Californian also earned the following honors for work published in 2021:

• Business Editor John Cox earned an honorable mention for news story for "Californian exclusive: McCarthy recounts intense, emotional class with Trump over election results."

• Reporter Ron Stapp received an honorable mention for sports story for "Family matters: Independence junior Brown latest in line of local basketball stars."

• Columnist Robert Price earned an honorable mention for his column "Shawn Jordan, your fifth-grade teacher is calling."

• Horvath earned an honorable mention for his news photo, tragedy at the park.

Tehachapi News, which competed in the category of weekly newspapers, earned these awards:

• Stapp earned honorable mention in sports for "High school football players unite to compete in Arizona."

• Jon Hammond earned honorable mention for columns with "Pen in Hand: THS Homecoming week — a Tehachapi tradition endures."

• Smirnoff also earned honorable mention for news photo for winter wonderland, snow blankets Tehachapi.

The Department of Media, Communications and Journalism at Fresno State University puts on the awards, which are judged by journalists outside California.