The boys held out against the girls Saturday morning by taking the top three places in the 2019 Bell County Spelling Bee at the Temple College Pavilion.
Newton Tran, 13, an eighth-grader at Academy Middle School received the first-place $100 prize and traveling trophy from Mike Hicks, circulation manager of the Temple Daily Telegram, which produces the Spelling Bee. Jeb Rine, 13, an eighth-grader at Salado Junior High School, won the second-place plaque and $50. Shrey Gupta, 13, a seventh-grader at North Belton Middle School, took the third-place plaque and $25.
It was Tran’s third year to compete in the bee. He placed fourth in his first try and fifth last year.
“Mostly, I studied like 10 pages a day and I had my mom or dad test me on it,” he said. Newton is the son of Bryan and Vanessa Tran of Temple.
“If you’re participating in a spelling bee, apathy is the worst thing you can have,” Newton said.
He wanted to thank his fellow teammates and said he practiced with them almost every day. He described the spelling bee as “really neat” and said he was thinking of becoming an English professor.
Jeb said he was “honestly surprised” at placing so high, although he practiced frequently at school and about four hours a week at home. His parents are Crystal and Jeff Rine. It was his first actual Spelling Bee, he said, but he has placed first in school spelling contests.
He advised other spellers to ask for the definition of the word. “Other than that, I just go with what my brain thinks,” he said.
“I want to travel the world and I want to be a marine biologist,” Jeb said. “I don’t really have a college in mind, but I’m leaning toward Australian National University in Canberra. And I want to give a big oof to all the other spellers.”
Shrey, the son of Rajiv Gupta and Sonali Singh, said it was his first time in the Spelling Bee.
“I feel like I didn’t put in as much effort as I should have, and I want to come back next year and win the trophy for my school,” he said.
Shrey studied the word lists alone and with his dad, he said. “I’d like to be a cardiovascular surgeon,” he said.
When Hicks called for a break at about 9:30 a.m., the number of spellers was down to 13. Sometime later the number dropped to six. That included Kole Peterson, Panya Muringathuparambil and Victoria Obregon. This group spelled flawlessly for six rounds.
Just after pronouncer D. Kirkland, a Temple College professor, started with the Difficulty Sequence word list, Kole missed on dissertation. Panya missed on unobtrusive and Victoria on neuropathy.
Now it was down to the three top spellers, and they hung on for about six rounds.
Then Shrey put an i in parapet. He said later he thought it was some kind of a pit.
Jeb and Newton went for three more rounds until Jeb spelled esthetic instead of ascetic. Newton spelled it correctly and won the bee by correctly spelling pervade.
Assisting Kirkland were returning judges Leigh Gardner, director of Temple Public Library, and Linda Barnes, who works in public relations at TC. A new judge this year was Meg Chamlee Pitrucha, a teacher at Belton New Tech High School @ Waskow.