PIQUA — Within the first five rounds, the competitors had been reduced to half their original number. By round 12, it was all over, less than half an hour after the contest had begun.
With 10 students from five schools participating, the Piqua City-Wide Spelling Bee moved along at a swift clip on Tuesday evening at Piqua Central Intermediate School.
The event began with words on the simpler end of the spectrum from a list generated by the Scripps National Spelling Bee. “Yam,” “plus,” tank” and “bark” gave way to “dojo,” “velcro,” “naysayer” and “frothy,” as the contestants battled to move on to the next round, some successfully, others to no avail.
“S-o-n-a-r … sonar?” Paige Croslin asked uncertainly, beaming when she learned she’d spelled the world correctly. Unfortunately, she would be KO’ed in the next round by “bandaid,” leaving the number of young spellers at five.
The next few rounds brought such terms as “owlishly,” “euro,” “hubbub” and “moxie,” as the numbers continued to decline.
And then there were two.
Facing off, Vivica Davis and Alexis “Lexi” Gastelu each spelled a word correctly before Davis was felled by “whiff.” Gastelu aced her word from that round — “columnist” — then correctly spelled the championship word, “evaporation,” to win the bee.
After her victory, the 13-year-old Gastelu, a seventh grader at Piqua Junior High School, admitted that she started out as a diligent studier before tapering off. “I studied quite a bit the first couple of weeks, then I slacked and procastinated because that’s kind of who I am,” she said with a chuckle.
Despite this confession, Gastelu, the daughter of Kelly Johnson and Joe Young of Piqua, still put in some hard work preparing for the competition. In addition to the study words provided by City Bee Coordinator and Piqua City Schools Director of Curriculum Dwayne Thompson, Gastelu also pored over a 14-page list of words given to her by her language arts teacher.
Davis, a fifth grade student at Piqua Central and the daughter of Jennifer and James Davis of Piqua, said she was nervous during the bee, and as runner-up, did much better than she’d expected. “I studied a lot — like 24/7, every day,” she said.
Normally, the winner of the city-wide bee advances to the next level of competition. This year, however, things will be done differently since there was no sponsor for a regional bee, Thompson said. Instead, he explained, “Tonight’s winner will be required to take a 50-word online spelling and vocabulary test between the 20th (of January) and Feb. 5.”
All of the particpants in Tuesday night’s bee were awarded plaques by Mark Wion of the Piqua Kiwanis Club, which sponsored the event. Other competing students were Wyatt Earhart, Kyle Pierre, Madison Saunders, Brooke Fishback, Kennedy Shaffer, Ava Jones and Kamryn Mikolajewski.
Yvonne Wion served as the pronouncer, and the judges were Josh Kauffman, Rob Messick and Kris Mitchem.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341.