Hannan Magnet Academy fifth-grader Owen Steele has won the 2018 Muscogee County School District Spelling Bee.
He prevailed after 13 rounds eliminated the 44 other contestants Wednesday on the Patrick Theatre stage in the Columbus Museum. His winning word, the 119th of the competition, was “prairie” and gave him the first-place trophy after finishing fourth last year, when he missed “reveille.”
As MCSD’s top two finishers this year, Owen and runner-up Christopher Holley, a Blanchard Elementary School fifth-grader, qualified for one of the state’s regional competitions, Feb. 24 at Fort Valley State University.
Owen, 11, called winning the bee “crazy” — especially because he misspelled “prairie” while practicing the previous night. But he remembered that first “i” when it counted.
“I studied and focused,” he told the Ledger-Enquirer.
He used that focus after being “nervous at first, and I got kind of bored during the practice rounds, because they took a really long time.”
Owen also reads a lot, every night before he goes to bed and usually in the car, he said. His favorite books are the “Harry Potter” series.
The closest he came to misspelling a word Wednesday was in the third round. Owen said the spelling bee’s pronouncer, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, was saying “cabochon” in “a way that I was not used to.” But he is familiar with the word, he said, and persevered.
Students in grades 4-8 are eligible to compete in the spelling bee. The winner (or runner-up if the winner isn’t available) of the spelling bee at each MCSD elementary school and middle school competes for the district title.
The judges were retired Georgia Association of Educators vice president Sandra Hawthorne, retired librarian Cathy Woolbright and Ledger-Enquirer vice president and executive editor Dimon Kendrick-Holmes.
These are the words contestants misspelled during the 2018 Muscogee County School District Spelling Bee:
First round: cordial, miracle, reservoir, calamine, tapirs, jauntily, despondency, azalea, flabbergasted, sophomore, composure, impeccable, stevedores, repugnance, vociferous, generalissimo, strenuous, intimation, voluminous, proviso, monomania, extenuation, conspicuous, excruciating.
Second round: treacherous, appendectomy, uncoquettish, requisites, annexation, sanguine, cypress, avocations, millinery, variegated, mitochondria, panegyric.
Third round: pitons.
Fourth round: workmanship, frolic.
A woman representing the boy who misspelled “frolic” contended that she saw him say the “l” that the judges didn’t hear. They listened to the recording and didn’t hear it that time either.
Fifth round: cruiser, easel.
10th round: stethoscope.
12th round: gardenia.
13th round: manicure.