AVON — Two eighth-graders faced off Friday during the second preliminary round of the 33rd annual spelling bee at Avon Middle School.
After more than an hour in which 35 students from nine schools were weeded out of the competition, it came down to Andy Hoffman, 13, of Holy Trinity School in Avon taking first place, and Samuel Fenik, 14, of Westwood Middle School taking second.
Rachel Mueller of Learwood Middle School took third place.
Samuel stumbled on the word synchronous, which is defined as happening, existing or arising at precisely the same time, and Andy stepped up to spell the word correctly.
Andy then had to spell oratorio, which is defined as a lengthy musical piece usually based on biblical or religious events, and he didn’t waver for a second in spelling the word correctly.
Andy said he put a consistent 20 minutes of daily practice into preparing for the spelling bee, focusing on one section of word origins at a time.
Andy, who said he finds German words the most difficult to spell, added that he believes using an online spelling computer program aided in his ability to take first place.
“I was a little nervous,” he said of the rounds leading up to the face-off against Samuel on Friday. “But as long as I heard the word and I knew it, I was OK.”
Samuel said he was most worried about spelling French words and he said he felt nervous during all the rounds. However, he said he was ultimately pleased with taking second, and said he was able to stay calm leading up to the final word.
Samuel credited his ability to get a second place win to the time his mother and father took in reading off words to him at home, which he would then spell.
Samuel said he took a mental note of any words he got wrong while practicing and would spend additional time memorizing the definitions and spellings of those words.
“I had a good time tonight,” he said.
Andy’s spelling bee adviser, Laura Walters, and Samuel’s adviser, Vickie Jenkins, both said the two students are exceptional and they commended the boys for putting in the time and effort to securing first- and second-place wins.
The 33rd annual spelling bee is sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Lorain County and The Chronicle-Telegram.
The final spelling bee will be 7 p.m. Friday at Avon Middle School. The finalist will represent the Educational Service Center Region 2 and The Chronicle-Telegram at the 89th Scripps National Spelling Bee competitions the week of May 23 in Washington, D.C.