By RICK HAYES
MT. VERNON — —
One by one they fell, until there were two.
Battling out for 32 rounds with a schoolmate, Trisha Nair of Casey Middle School eventually won the Jefferson County Spelling Bee on Monday night at Logan Street Baptist Church.
Nair's classmate at Casey, Charu Jain, was the runnerup.
A total of 34 spellers competed in the annual event, sponsored by the Hamilton-Jefferson Regional Office of Education.
Following a practice round with pronouncer Butch Wilson, five spellers were eliminated in the first round. Seven more went down in the second round, eight in the third round, four in the fourth round, three in the fifth round and when one was eliminated in the sixth round, only four spellers were left standing.
One more speller was eliminated in Round 7, leaving Nair, Jain and Brent Harris of St. Mary Grade School. Harris was knocked out in the eighth round on the word “esotericism.”
Nair and Jain then began their round by round battles, spelling words that even English teacher and Assistant Regional Superintendent of Schools Melanie Andrews admitted were difficult to spell.
Both spellers missed opportunities to win the event in earlier rounds — both missing words in the 24th through 31st rounds.
Finally, in the 32nd round, Jain missed the word “elysium,” leaving the door open for Nair, who correctly spelled the word “rubicundity,” and winning the bee for correctly spelling the word “philtrum.” According to Wikepedia, the philtrum is a vertical groove in the middle area of the upper lip, common to many mammals, extending from the nose to the upper lip.
Other schools and their representatives in the spelling bee included: Alysandra Bond and Makayla Bowden of Bethel; Isaiah Bradshaw and Pawl Lewis of Bluford; Jacob Martin and Mikel Scott of Dodds; Killian Calkins and Alyssa Hails of Farrington; Macy Marthaler and Blake McKay of Field; Johnathan Bryan and Jerika Morgan of Grand Prairie; Jay Johnson and Elizabeth Venters of Ina; Samuel Logue and Hailey Marlow of J.L. Buford; Brianna McGehee and Buddy Lamczyk of McClellan; Hailey Durbin and Brayden Reynolds of Mt. Vernon Christian; Taylor Storey and Logan Lisk of OBR; Katie Huff and Vidhi Merchant of Rome; Amy Harris and Brent Harris of St. Mary; Emilee Clarke and Derek Hill of Summersville; Nealia Lewis and Ashli Presswood of Waltonville; and Devyn Barton and Max Harad of Woodlawn.