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Regional Spelling Bee culminates after 31 rounds (video)

By Carolina Astrain
March 19, 2013 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2013 at 10:19 p.m.

Colton Blinka, representing Calhoun County, clutches  his hands in a victory gesture after he was declared the winner of the 24th Regional Spelling Bee. Pauline Negrete, representing Edna ISD, won second place in an emotional finish.

Lilliana Gonzalez, 13, a seventh grader from Cuero Junior High School, tapped her foot nervously behind her crossed ankles as introductions were made.

Two contestants down from Gonzales, seventh-grader Ryan Ehsan, 12, a student at Stroman Middle School, smiled nervously to the crowd gathered for the Regional Spelling Bee on Tuesday night.

Wearing a pressed blue oxford, Ryan ran through a list of words minutes before the competition's start.

Although he spent a total of 71/2 hours studying over spring break, Ryan said his nerves had escalated since entering the building.

A few years ago, his older brother Evan Ehsan competed at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and Ryan is hoping to accomplish the same achievement.

Deep into the competition, Therese Eamiguel, Ryan, Colton Blinka and Pauline Negrete battled each other for about 15 rounds before reaching Round 30 where Therese and Ryan struck out early.

Leaving Colton, 14, and Pauline, 14, alone in the competition.

Pauline's misspelling of "bethesda" released a surprised gasp from the audience.

The Edna Junior High School eighth-grader has won the regional bee for the past two years.

"Congrats to the winner," Pauline said through teary, puffy eyes. "I guess everything happens for a reason."

Colton, an eighth-grader at Travis Middle School, took the championship with the word "prevaricate" in the 31st round.

"It's good because I've really been wanting and studying a lot for this," Colton said. "I studied every night and the day right before."

The champion and other placing contestants carried their trophies home and put the longest Regional Spelling Bee, spanning more than three hours, to bed.



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