BY SUSAN THACKER
Allison Regehr from Jefferson Elementary School won this year’s Barton County Spelling Bee, Saturday at Great Bend Middle School. She and runner-up Ethan Woodcock from Hoisington Middle School will represent the county on March 12, at the Great Bend Tribune’s Sunflower Spelling Bee.
Miss Regehr, a sixth grader from Great Bend, was also the 2009 county champion. At Saturday’s bee, she outlasted the returning 2010 champion, Janae Ryan, now a sixth grader at Claflin Elementary, who bowed out in round 10 when she misspelled "insidious."
Ethan Woodcock, an eighth grader, was the runner-up at the HMS bee, where his younger sister Emily, in grade 6, was the school champion. But at the county bee, Ethan took advantage of pronouncer NR Weber’s advice, often asking to hear a word’s definition, part of speech or country of origin, or to hear it used in a sentence.
Paul Snapp, chairman of the Donald H. Humphreys 2011 Barton County Spelling Bee, commented on the high level of competition this year. "You spellers spelled a bunch of tough words," he said, noting all 22 participants spelled their words correctly in the first round.
Judges stopped the competition once in round 3 to review the tape recording of the event when they were unsure if a speller said "g" or "d." When they couldn’t be sure, she was given a new word.
Woodcock had a chance at the first-place trophy in round 12, when Regehr tripped on "logarithm." In previous years, with only two contestants left, he would have had to spell that word and one more. Under this year’s rules, he received a new word, "battalion." When he missed that word, both advanced to round 13, where Regehr correctly spelled "cuisine," but Woodcock couldn’t come up with "mannequin." Regehr cinched the title by spelling the 14th round word, "bazooka."
A total of 26 students were eligible to compete Saturday, and all received blue or red ribbons for taking first or runner-up at their individual school competitions. Regehr and Woodcock received trophies and Great Bend Chamber of Commerce gift certificates from the Great Bend Noon Kiwanis club, which sponsors the county bee. It is named after the late Humphreys, who in 1976 organized the first Barton County Spelling Bee since 1940.
Among the bee volunteers was Matt Weber, who won the county bee in 1996, 1997 and 1998, while attending Claflin Elementary and Claflin Junior High School. He placed second at the state bee in Topeka in 1998. On Saturday he was in charge of providing definitions and other word information if asked.