By Sarah Plummer
A fifth-grader from Greenbrier County earned her stripes and placed third in the Gazette-Mail Regional Spelling Bee Saturday at Capital High School in Charleston.
Su Su Wai, from Rainelle Elementary, just barely edged out Raleigh County’s seventh-grader Abby Stimson for the third position and a $75 cash prize.
Wai, who added a “d” to “delineate,” and Stimson, who misspelled “solicitous,” both left the competition in round 11 and later went head-to-head for third place.
During their sudden death round, Stimson correctly spelled “bronchitis” but left one “t” out of “acquittal.” Wai, who had already confidently rattled off “chauvinism” and “anomaly,” beat out the Raleigh County student from Victory Baptist Academy with “tangential” and “inauguration.”
Wai said she felt nervous during the bee but not from stage fright.
The hardest part of the bee was having such strong competitors, she added.
She said she feels good about her ranking and plans to continue to compete in the years to come, although her mother said she would need to devote more time to studying in the coming years.
As a fifth-grader, she potentially has three more years to try her hand at winning.
Wai is familiar in Greenbrier County competitions, participating in Math Field Day, the Geography Bee, and Battle of the Books.
Both Stimson and Wai were runners-up in their county bees.
Nikki Zinzuwadia, winner of the Raleigh County bee, hung in until round 6, spelling “contiguous” and “mayonnaise” correctly before leaving the stage.
Taking first and second place during round 15 in the bee were Lauren Coccari, from Kanawha County, and Teresa Riffle, from Jackson County, respectively.
Coccari took home a $2,500 Smart 529 College Savings Bond and Riffle took home $150 in cash.
Coccari will head to Washington, D.C., May 26-June 1 to represent West Virginia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Southern West Virginia made a strong showing Saturday with six of the top 10 and three of the top five hailing from the lower part of the state.
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Spelling Bee, top 10
1st Place — Lauren Coccari, Kanawha County
2nd Place — Teresa Riffle, Jackson County
3rd Place — Su Su Wai, Greenbrier County
4th Place — Abby Stimson, Raleigh County
5th Place — Michael Fox, Fayette County
6th Place — Kathryn Wantlin, Kanawha County
7th Place — Alex Lowe, Jackson County
8th Place — Breanna D. Mills, Wyoming County
9th Place — Amiri Bartley, Logan County
10th Place —Caroline Smith, Nicholas County