PIQUA — Gage Hammer lived up to his surname by delivering a blow that dropped his opponents in the Piqua City-Wide Spelling Bee on Thursday evening at Piqua Central Intermediate School.
Ten students — a spelling bee champ and runner-up from each of the five Piqua schools — competed in the city-wide bee, which was sponsored by the Piqua Kiwanis Club.
After being tripped up by “icicle” in the seventh round, it looked like Hammer was out of the running, leaving Daviyon Tubbs and Josslyn Freistuhler to battle it out with words like “mizzle,” “chinchilla” and “barrow.” But when Tubbs and Freistuhler stumbled in rounds eight, nine and 10, Hammer got a second chance and came back to first spell “humble,” then “mentor” for the championship.
It was the second consecutive City-Wide Spelling Bee victory for Hammer, who also racked up a few wins as an elementary schooler. Rooted on by his stepfather and mother, Brock and Rachel Hall, the Piqua Junior High eighth grader said it felt “good” to win the bee again.
“I studied quite a bit,” he said, adding that the hardest word he learned while studying was “one I can’t even pronounce.”
To advance to the next round of the competition, Hammer must take a 50-word online spelling and vocabulary test between Jan. 20 and Feb. 5. The date and location of the next spelling bee will be announced at a future date.
Freistuhler, who walked away from the bee as runner-up, said she got her talent for spelling from her dad, gesturing toward Tim Freistuhler, who gave a modest laugh and attributed his daughter’s acumen to her own hard work. Josslyn, also the daughter of Ashley Brown, is in fifth grade at Piqua Central Intermediate.
Other students who competed in the City-Wide Spelling Bee were Daria Lee and Miley Heffelfinger (Piqua Catholic); Madyson Neer (Piqua Central Intermediate); Libbie Hilderbrand and Kelsi Powell (Springcreek Primary); and Liberti Tipps and Jackson Bowman (Washington Primary).
The Piqua Kiwanis Club was represented at the bee by Mark and Yvonne Wion, the latter of whom also served as the word pronouncer for the event. Piqua Central staffers Josh Kauffman, principal, and Kris Mitchem, a teacher, were judges, as was Director of Curriculum Teresa Anderson, who also coordinated the spelling bee.
Reach Belinda M. Paschal at (937) 451-3341 or firstname.lastname@example.org