It was a battle to the end for the championship of The Lakes Bee Monday at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd's Washington Middle School.
Megan Yontz, an eighth-grader at Northland-Remer school, and Nicholas Magness, a sixth-grader at Rippleside Elementary School in Aitkin, fought for first place. After 14 rounds, Yontz claimed victory and won a trip to Washington, D.C., for the national competition.
The rules for The Lakes Bee, sponsored by The Brainerd Dispatch, specify the student had to spell two words correctly in a row to win.
There were 39 students from Crow Wing, Morrison, Wadena, Todd and Cass counties who competed in the regional bee. Yontz, who took top honors after 23 rounds, will advance to compete in The Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee May 30 to June 4 in Washington, D.C.
In round eight of the regional bee there were four students left -- Yontz, Magness, Ashley Stangl, an eighth-grader at Pierz Healy school, and Aidan Breen, a seventh-grader at Washington Middle School in Brainerd.
Stangl and Breen spelled their words incorrectly and were eliminated. However, they had to spell one more word to see who would claim third place. Stangl spelled "guillotine" correctly to take third place. Breen spelled "doubloons" incorrectly and took fourth place.
Megan Yontz from Northland-Remer school took first place in The Lakes Bee Monday night at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd. Yontz will compete in the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C.
Yontz and Magness were under the hot, bright spotlight on stage by themselves for 14 rounds.
After playing a game of cat and mouse, Yontz finally spelled "semipermeable" correctly and Magness spelled "benignant" wrong. Then Yontz spelled "exonerate" correctly for the win.
"I didn't expect to win," said Yontz. "I didn't practice and I thought I'd maybe get in the top half."
Yontz said she was nervous throughout the competition, but as other students were eliminated she started to feel a little more calm.
During the competition, Yontz said none of the words she had was hard. However, she said there were many words she did not know and guessed at the spelling.
Nicholas Magness, Aitkin, placed second in Monday's competition. Thirty-nine students competed in the regional spelling bee.
The word "semipermeable," one of the words for the win, was the easiest for Yontz. She said she just read the word in her science class and was familiar with it. She said she would thank her science teacher Tuesday.
Yontz, the daughter of Robert and Pamela Yontz of Longville, said that as the rounds progressed, she wondered whether she would qualify for nationals and a trip to Washington, D.C.
"I've never been on that side of the country before," she said. "I will be more nervous competing at nationals, but I'm very excited to go."
For placing first, Yontz will receive a trip for two to Washington, D.C., a $100 savings bond, a digital camera, a Webster's dictionary, a trophy and a DVD of the movie "Spellbound."
Magness, the son of Carol and Carlson Magness of Aitkin, said he expected to place near the top in the spelling bee. He said he felt he knew the words.
"At the end I wasn't as nervous," he said. "But when we were going back and forth it didn't look like anyone would win."
For second place, he won a trophy, a $50 gift card from Best Buy, a T-shirt and movie passes to Movies 10.
This was the first regional spelling bee competition for Yontz and Magness.
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