It was a Maryville sweep Tuesday during the Nodaway County Spelling Bee at Nodaway-Holt High School in Graham, where 12 school finalists competed for a chance to move on to the regional contest next month in St. Joseph.
It took 21 rounds of contestants being challenged by increasingly difficult words, but in the end Maryville Middle School sixth-grader Hayden Mildward slipped up on "palette," leaving it to MMS classmate Sakif Islam to gallup into the winner's circle by correctly and confidently spelling "dressage."
As the first- and second-place winners, both Islam and Mildward will get to compete regionally at the Xavier Parish Center in St. Joseph on March 2. The next level is the national contest in Washington, D.C.
Tuesday's third- and fourth-place finishers, seventh-grader Sabrina Olson and eighth-grader Bailey White, will serve as alternates should Islam and Mildward be unable to continue. Both girls are students at St. Gregory's School.
Of the 12 initial competitors, six were eliminated by the end of round four, when the words grew noticeably harder. Soon, only the four finalists remained in the hunt.
All sailed with little effort through multisyllabic challenges like "souvenir" "graffiti" and "contraband" before White tripped up by leaving the final "e" off "impasse." Then Olson went down in the seventh round after stumbling over "acronym."
For the next dozen rounds or so, it was a two-person contest, with Mildward and Islam looking like they might go on for a good while spelling words they obviously knew by rote, including "amnesia," "suave," "periscope," "seltzer" and "flotilla."
Following the contest each of the 12 contestants, all of whom had finished first or second in their school bees, received participation certificates. The four finalists were also awarded medals, which they wore, proud and smiling, during a photo session in front of teachers and parents.
Other participants in Tuesday's bee were: Caden Farnan (Jefferson), Brittany Burns (Northeast Nodaway), Sydney Billings (Nodaway-Holt), Alias Cullin (Jefferson), Kassidy Brady (West Nodaway), Matthew Adkins (West Nodaway), Olivia Miles (Nodaway-Holt) and Gerry Rundy (Northeast Nodaway).
Coordinator of this year's Nodaway County Spelling Bee was Lori Sneed, and the pronouncer was Cindy Lemar. Megan Frueh, Marcy Ingram, Andrea Sturgis and Carla Taylor served as judges.