A Lake Middle School School eighth grader is top speller in the county.

Her schoolmate took second place.

The 2021 Wood County Spelling Bee was held Saturday at the Wood County Educational Service Center with a much smaller pool of contestants.

There were 11 students representing four schools. It took 14 rounds to determine the top three finalists.

Oliana Syroka won the contest in the ninth round by spelling consecrate correctly.

This is her second year competing in the county bee and she said she had high hopes entering the contest.

“I’m very happy right now,” Syroka said while holding her trophy. “I’m like ecstatic.”

She said she knew all the words used during the tie-breaker rounds — except amalgam.

Her mom, Sarah Rankins, helped her study by reading the words, then Syroka asked for definitions, repeated them, then spelled them.

Syroka said that she uses a dry erase board to spell out the words and she practiced two-three hours a day.

Natalie Youngs, a seventh grader at Lake, took second place.

Youngs said she and fellow competitor Claire Wulff go into the school hallway every day and study for 30 minutes, but she knew the competition would be tough.

“I knew that I would not get first place,” Youngs said.

After Syroka won in the ninth round, the three remaining contestants – including Youngs — who missed their words in the eighth round went on to compete for second and third place.

In the 10th round, Youngs spelled megahertz correctly. Wulff, of Lake, misspelled adulation while Casen Henline, Eastwood, was correct with cymbals and Savanah Stephens was correct with stevia.

To take second place in the 11th round, Youngs correctly spelled soprano while Henline and Stephens missed with nocturnal and agitation.

It took Henline and Stephens three rounds to determine third place. In the 14th round, Henline correctly spelled vanguard while Stephens missed with amalgam.

The only word Youngs missed in the competition was raucous in the eighth round.

“Now I know how to (spell it), but I did not then,” she said with a laugh.

Last year, there were 19 competitors, compared to 11 this year.

“This is pretty cool we can even do this,” said Aaron Bailey, bee coordinator.

Bailey said the coronavirus pandemic affected school schedules, and several decided in the fall not to participate because they couldn’t predict what their schedules were going to be.

Two schools at the last minute decided not to send spellers, Bailey said.

Syroka, Youngs and Henline will represent Wood County at the Northwest Ohio Spelling Bee in March. Bailey said he believes it will be an online competition.

Other competitors included Jason Gunn Jr. of St. Aloysius, who was out in the first round after misspelling tennis.

Karsyn Winters, Elmwood; Chase Betts, St. Aloysius; and Owen Foos, also of St. Al’s, were all disqualified in the fifth round after misspelling newbie, corral and cinnamon, respectively.

Laura Tanner, of Elmwood, misspelled cuckoo and Sydney Bell, Eastwood, misspelled balderdash to both be eliminated in the sixth round.

Last year’s winner, Aubrey Johnson, qualified to compete but had a conflict with her athletic schedule, Bailey said.

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