Spelling is believing
Vickers on his way to state bee
Miranda Rohn was a little morose Saturday, but that wasn't the word that knocked her out of the Douglas County Spelling Bee.
Miranda, a Broken Arrow School sixth-grader, was runner-up in the contest of 29 students representing elementary and middle schools in the county, when she added an extra "e" to "vigilante."
The competition ended when Eudora Middle School eighth-grader Austin Vickers correctly spelled the word "ablution."
"That's it, you're our man!" said Karen Cochran, a West Junior High School teacher who pronounced the words for the students.
"I'm pretty excited about this," Austin said. Last year, Vickers placed ninth in the bee.
Despite the early finish, he was confident from the start this year.
"I was a little bit less nervous because I've been there before," he said.
He'll go on to the state spelling bee March 24 at Washburn Rural High School in Topeka to compete with winners from other counties across Kansas.
Moments were tense during Saturday's competition, even coming to a halt at one point when one of the contestants threw up on stage.
"This is a first," said Deborah Summers Norwood, spelling bee coordinator.
But after the mess was cleaned up, the words continued to get harder and the students began striking out faster.
Some students took their time and used their fingers to write the words on their forearms before spelling them out loud; others just took a stab at it.
When it got down to Austin and Miranda, they went through about nine rounds of misspellings, including words "paroxysm," "despotism" and "quadruped," before the winner was announced.
"I feel kind of disappointed that I didn't win," said a teary-eyed Miranda after the contest.
But both her mother and teacher, Mindy Stahmer, had glowing smiles on their faces.
"She studied her heart out, so I am glad it paid off," said Stahmer, one of three spelling bee judges.
Austin said he realizes with his victory the competition won't get any easier.
"I'm studying a lot harder," he said. "I'm working a lot harder on it."
The Lawrence Journal-World sponsored the event.
---- Eudora News reporter Patrick Cady contributed to this story.