It took 23 rounds Saturday morning, but an Eastwood Middle School sixth-grader won the Wood County Spelling Bee.
|Tabitha Escalante, the winner of the spelling bee, spells a word to judges during the final round as her opponent, Mary Kalmar stands in the background. (Photos: Shane Hughes/Sentinel-Tribune)
Tabitha Escalante took the top trophy by correctly spelling "machismo" and then "cryptic."
Mary Kalmar, a seventh-grader from Bowling Green Middle School, took second.
These two, along with four others, will move on to the regional championship spelling bee set for March 14 at Owens Community College.
It took 12 rounds to whittle the field of 15 down to just Escalante and Kalmar.
Then the showdown started, and continued through "regatta," which Escalante got wrong, and so did Kalmar. On the next word, "parmesan," both misspelled it again. The same happened on "ridiculous."
Escalante correctly spelled "benevolent," then Kalmar missed "machismo." Escalante then spelled "machismo" correctly, and won the contest by correctly spelling "cryptic."
"She has practiced every day," said Robin Lohmann, Escalante's mother, who sat with her father, Kevin, while pictures were taken after the finals.
"I was hoping so," said the winner about her chance of finishing first.
And she'll continuing practicing with online spelling lists getting ready for the regional event next month.
For Kalmar, her sister Lydia made practice lists. This year those practice lists were heavy on science terminology, as last year Kalmar also placed second after missing "pituitary."
This year, there was nary a science word mentioned. Instead, the audience got hungry listing to competitors spelling "chalupa," "gordita," "tortilla" and "strudel."
This is a third generation event for the Kalmar family: mother Maggie also competed in Van Wert back in the day, even with a 102-degree fever; and Lydia competing in 2010, going out on pigeon.
Also going to the regional event are Aaron Grant, from Northwood Middle School; Nathan Banky, from Lake Middle School; Ciaira Brown, from Elmwood Middle School; and Andrew Robinette, of St. Aloysius Catholic School.
Going 23 rounds is unusual, said Melissa Dimmerling, coordinator for the event.
|Mary Kalmar writes a word on paper before spelling it to a panel of judges during the Wood County Spelling Bee.
"This one was an extensive round," she said, adding she thought 23 rounds was the highest ever for the event.
Only 16 students were asked to compete, but the number dropped to 15 Saturday with Jacob Montag, from Eastwood Middle School, was too sick to make it.
That number competing is down from 28 last year, since the state initially said it would not fund the $125 per school to fund the program, Dimmerling said. That decision changed in January, but by then many of the schools already had made a decision to not compete.
Dimmerling gave the youngsters their final directions, ending with "don't be nervous. You're the best spellers in Wood County."
In the first round, "windily" tripped up Lane Behee, from Northwood Elementary; "stoic" stopped Ceci Guernsey, of Otsego Elementary School; and "fathom" ousted Tyler Schwartz, of Powell Elementary School.
The second round took out Jared Ault, Elmwood Middle School, when he misspelled "nestle."
In the third round, "hominy" tripped up Andrew Shelton, of North Baltimore Middle School.
In the fourth round, four went down: Nolan McHugh, of Rossford Junior High, with "layette"; Annika Keeton, of Frank Elementary, with "renegade"; Daniel Feng, of Woodland Elementary, with "plateau"; and Joshua Holley, of Lake Elementary, with "strudel".
No one went out in the fifth, sixth, of seventh rounds. But in the eighth, "chalupa" stopped Nathan Banky and "nebbish" stopped Andrew Robinette.
The eleventh round sent out Ciaira Brown, of Elmwood Middle School, with "mattock."
The twelfth round ended the attempt of Aaron Grant, of Northwood High School, when he misspelled "entomology."
That left Escalante and Kalmar to duke it out for 11 rounds.
The regional bee will be held March 14 at Owens Community College's Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Registration starts at 5:30 p.m.