Clara claims state bee

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March 14, 2011 - 12:00 AM

GREAT BEND — Clara Wicoff clinched the Sunflower State Spelling Bee Saturday afternoon after 14 rounds. The Iola 13-year-old’s final word was geriatrician — a doctor who specializes in care of the elderly.
It was the second time Wicoff has won the regional bee which qualifies her for the E.W. Scripps National Spelling Bee June 1-2 in Washington, D.C. Wicoff first won a berth to the national bee in 2009.
This morning Clara was still on a high from Saturday’s event. Long before school began, her voice was perky over the phone as she relayed the bee.
“At first it went very fast as people were eliminated round by round. Then it settled to just four of us, and things slowed down.”
The morning’s activities included familiarizing contestants with the bee’s rules and having a practice round.
After lunch, the bee began.
Not that Clara ate. “I had maybe 3 inches of a Subway sandwich,” she said. From earlier competitions Clara has found that a full stomach and high-strung nerves are not a good mix.
Clara went the first six rounds without a hitch, correctly spelling xylophone, ambivalent, genesis, abhorrence, bulgur and hebetude. She then tripped on the word syllogism. Other contestants also missed their words and a new round began.
Clara correctly spelled nascency, then misspelled bouffant. As luck would have it, others misspelled their words and Clara remained in action.
She then coursed through the competition successfully spelling triforium, pachinko, decedent and her final word, geriatrician.
In all, Clara was on stage about three hours.
Placing second was Zach Barrow of Sedgwick County and also a seventh-grader. A total of 79 students from the southern half of the state competed in the bee, which is sponsored by the Great Bend Tribune.

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