The 87th annual Bell County Spelling Bee went smoothly for a while on Saturday morning in the Temple College Pavilion. It looked like it would be a long day for the audience — mostly family members of the 42 contestants.
One by one, however, the middle schoolers began stumbling. As 11 a.m. drew near, the field narrowed to three: Aditi Bhat, Isaac Searle and Kathryn Krickzy. In the first round, Krickzy spelled defray, Bhat spelled pursuant, and Searle spelled factious. They hung in there for four more rounds, until Krickzy missed on the word interim.
Searle spelled mandarin, and Bhat spelled plunger. He missed on adulate. She spelled it correctly, and followed with brandish to win the bee.
Mike Hicks, circulation manager for the Temple Daily Telegram, which sponsors the bee, presented Bhat with the first place traveling trophy and $100. Searle won the $50 second prize, and Krickzy the $25 third prize.
Bhat, an eighth-grader at South Belton Middle School, is the daughter of Nandita and Sanjay Bhat of Temple. She won third place in last year’s spelling bee. She said she didn’t recall having trouble with any of the words this year.
“I’m not sure what I want to do career-wise, but I love music and the fine arts,” she said. “It was just a lot of preparation and memorization.”
As for advice to other students, she said, “The spelling bee is a lot of hard work, but if you work very hard, you are going to do very well.”
Searle, a seventh-grader at Providence Preparatory School, is the son of Russell and Melinda Searle of Temple. He was in the top 10 spellers last year, but won’t be able to compete again next year. His father, an oral surgeon at Fort Hood, is going to be transferred.
Isaac Searle said he had trouble with the word kendo, and thought bullheaded might be hyphenated. To prepare for the bee, he read through the words, and his parents studied with him, his father said. Isaac said he might like to be a scientist when he grows up.
Krickzy, an eighth-grader at Holland Middle School, is the daughter of Mick and Elizabeth Krickzy of Hutto. She placed sixth in last year’s spelling bee.
“I’m busy, so I had to take the time to study,” she said. “Study a lot and read, because reading really helps. I read a lot.”
As for the future, she said she will probably go into computer science.
The spelling bee is part of the Temple Daily Telegram’s Newspapers in Education program. It’s open to sixth, seventh and eighth grade students, whether they attend a public, charter, private or home school.
D. Kirkland, TC communications professor, returned as the pronouncer. Returning as judges were Linda Barnes, TC coordinator of marketing and media relations, and the Rev. Roscoe Harrison Jr., pastor of Eighth Street Baptist Church. Meg Chamlee Pitrucha, a retired teacher, served as judge for the first time.