BONNE TERRE – After 22 rounds, it all came down to the word “bazooka.”
That was the word that crowned Kingston High School’s Elijah Hongsermeier-Baxter the first place finisher at Thursday night’s MAAA Spelling Bee held in the North County High School auditorium.
For the final 10 rounds, Elijah and his opponent, Matthew Clifton of West County, went head-to-head spelling words that might have been a challenge for even the most well-read of adults.
At the end of the ninth round, third place finisher Will King of Central High School was knocked out of the competition when he misspelled the word “verdere.” This left only Elijah and Matthew to fight it out to the bitter end.
But let’s not get ahead of the story.
The evening began with Farmington Middle School Principal Dorothy Winslow welcoming the 11 schools represented at the event. This year’s spelling bee was sponsored by the Farmington R-7 School District.
Winslow next introduced Pronouncer Terri Francis and Judge Julie Bales, both of Fredericktown.
Francis explained that each contestant would be called upon to spell one word in each round. They could request that their word be repeated, read in a sentence or defined, as well as learn its part of speech and alternate pronunciations, if any. If they misspelled a word, they were immediately out of the contest.
“The rules change once we’re down to just two contestants,” Francis said. “At that point, each one will receive a word to spell. The contest will continue until one of the contestants spells their word incorrectly. At that point, the other contestant will be given the opportunity to spell the word. If they spell it wrong, the contest will continue as normal. If they get it correct, they will then be given a word to spell. If they spell that word correctly, they are the winner.”
Elijah and Matthew went back and forth spelling each word given. There were a couple of misspelled words, but both contestants spelled them incorrectly so the contest continued. It was in round 22 that Matthew was given the word “pariah.”
He slowly and deliberately pronounced each letter: “P-E-R-Y-A.”
Judge Bales declared his spelling as incorrect.
After Elijah spelled pariah correctly, Pronouncer Francis gave him the word “bazooka” to spell.
With Elijah’s correct spelling, applause filled the auditorium and he was declared first place winner of the spelling bee.
Winslow presented Elijah with the MAAA Spelling Bee plaque, as well as a traveling plaque to be displayed at his high school until next year’s contest. She also noted that Elijah had also been first place finisher at last year’s spelling bee.
Other participants in Thursday’s spelling bee were Mackenzie Shields and Staci Hammock of North County; Kyle Helms, Cherelle Braggs and Matthew Fisk of Arcadia Valley; Alyssa Hudson, Mikayla Gabel and Priscilla Rodriguez of Fredericktown; Kurtis Kile of Central; Dalton Singer and Rolana Knight of Potosi; Madison Raney, Ian Schmidt and Brooke Weiler of Ste. Genevieve; Shaylin Ryder, Ashley Turner and Logan Liddell of Bismarck; Jacob Lybarger and Kylie Newhouse of West County; Exodus Donley, Nick Goodson and Harley Yates of Farmington; Alex James and Jordan Brakefield of Valley of Caledonia; and Haley Govero of Kingston.
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or email@example.com