When all was said and done, the top wordsmith of the group was 9-year-old Allen Steele, a fourth-grader from Boynton Elementary, who captured the title from runner-up Justin Higgins by successfully spelling the word “seismography” after the 13 year-old Higgins had misspelled it earlier in the heads-up round.
“It’s really great to win the bee,” Steele said. “I get to go to the regional bee now and try to win that one too.”
In an ironic twist of fate, Steele was the only participant to misspell his practice word before the competition officially began.
“I was a little nervous when we started,” Steele said. “And that’s why I think I missed my practice word.”
“We’re just glad he was able to get his word right when they counted,” one Steele supporter said as friends and family congratulated him after the victory.
After the bee, Steele and his co-spellers Justin Higgins, Ashlynn Jenkins, and Grace Beagles, who finished second, third, and fourth respectively, all clutched their trophies as they left the Tiger Creek auditorium being praised by family.
The top four finishes will now move on to compete in the regional bee to be held in March. From that point, winners will be able to compete in the 2011 National Spelling Bee.