As the temperature rose about 80 degrees Saturday afternoon in Great Bend, things were even hotter inside the Barton Community College Fine Auditorium, site of the Great Bend Tribune’s 2012 Sunflower Spelling Bee.
The air conditioning hasn’t been turned on yet at the college, and fans couldn’t keep up with heat — especially on stage where 85 contestants sat under bright lights for the first round. Twenty-four contestants were knocked out of the bee on the first round, caught up by sometimes tricky or unfamiliar words such as knavery, trawl, macaroni and karma.
After the first round, the remaining contestants took a break. Word pronouncer Dana Webster said the stage lights had been dimmed to reduce the heat.
"There’s a word I’d like to spell for you," Weber said. "W-A-R-M — Warm. We’re going to be taking some short breaks so you can rehydrate, get some water."
Few spellers lasted past round nine, but every speller had already earned his or her spot on stage by becoming a county champion. In many cases, they had to win bees or take spelling tests in their own schools before advancing to their county bees.
Barton County champion Allison Regehr was out in round four when she misspelled "neonatology." Barton County’s Emily Woodcock went out a round earlier with the word "suggestible."
Pawnee County’s Macy Hass was also one of the eight contestants eliminated in the fourth round. Her word was "minacious."
Ethan Becker from Edwards County dropped in round three on "limpet."
Other area contestants and the word that stopped them in early rounds were: Ian Trapp, Ellsworth County, "impasse"; Justyce Briney, Ness County, "ambivalent"; Brandy Cavazos, Rice County, "cedilla"; Jackson Dinsmore, Rush County, "alligator"; Sarah Pelton, Russell County, "bayou"; and Sophie Filbert, Stafford County, "graupel."