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Middleton student spells victory in regional bee

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Stacy Vogel
February 21, 2008
— Panic. P-A-N-I-C. How you feel when you realize you’re one of two people left in the regional spelling bee, and you have to spell the word “recalcitration.”

Evan Swain had waited a long time to get to this point. The bee had been going on at Milton High School for nearly three hours Wednesday night, and he’d already gone through the bees at his school and at the Middleton-Cross Plains School District.


Nervous. N-E-R-V-O-U-S. The way you feel when the bee has just started, and you’re surrounded by more than 60 other spellers from Rock, Jefferson, Dane, Green, Walworth, Kenosha and Racine counties.


Brutal. B-R-U-T-A-L. The relentless luck of the draw as the pronouncer gives you your word. You could be the best speller there, but you trip up on the vowels in “entomologist.”


Hurriedly. H-U-R-R-I-E-D-L-Y. How some of the middle school students spelled their words, as if they had to finish in three seconds or less. Others spelled steadily, S-T-E-A-D-I-L-Y, never doubting themselves.


Kaitlyn Biester of Janesville rattled off “bungalow” casually in the second round, her hands stuck in her back pockets.


Some squinted or stroked their chins as they tried to picture the words. Rebecca Lamp of Wheatland wiggled her legs as she spelled “robot” in the first round.


Emily Miller of Middleton traced the letters on her hand before spelling her words.


But by round six, even the most confident spellers were starting to waver on words such as “dromedary,” “flagellum” and “labyrinth.” The contestant count dropped from 27 to 14.


Laborious. L-A-B-O-R-I-O-U-S. How each turn seems as you struggle to spell words you’ve never heard before.


But Evan was tenacious, T-E-N-A-C-I-O-U-S, struggling to stay in as the count dropped to eight, then five.


Finally, only Evan and Grace Vosen, another Middleton-Cross Plains student, remained.


They both missed words (“unpronounceable” and “refugeeism”), then Evan correctly spelled “recalcitration.”


Grace misspelled “semanticist,” and Evan correctly spelled “paraclete” for the win.


“I was kind of surprised,” Evan said afterward. “I’ve never won the regional bee.”


Fiesta. F-I-E-S-T-A. What you throw yourself after you win a regional spelling bee.


Don’t forget the confetti. C-O-N-F-E-T-T-I.


Top spellers

The top six spellers from Wednesday’s regional bee will move on to the Badger State Spelling Bee on March 8 at Monona Grove High School. They are:


-- Evan Swain, Middleton-Cross Plains


-- Grace Vosen, Middleton-Cross Plains


-- Emily Miller, Middleton-Cross Plains


-- Anusha Ramaswami, Middleton-Cross Plains


-- Hunter LaFear, DeForest


-- Bakhtawar Isha Mirza, Verona



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