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Nathan Barnes is now a two-time winner of the Wilson County Spelling Bee.
The 14-year-old eighth-grader captured the prize in 14 rounds by spelling the 187th word, efficacy.
The annual event, sponsored by The Wilson Times, brought 54 students from area public, private, charter and home schools together at Barton College’s Hardy Alumni Hall.
Dressed in a Pink Floyd T-shirt, shorts and wearing a Stetson cap, Barnes appeared relaxed.
“It was not nearly as long as last year,” Barnes said afterward.
In the 2017 contest, it took 72 rounds to determine the winner.
As the winner in 2018, Nathan will travel again to the nation’s capital city to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled May 27-June 2.
“I can’t wait to tell all of my friends,” said Nathan, who is homeschooled in Wilson.
Beatrice Sangangbayan, a seventh-grader from Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education, earned second place in the competition.
“To be honest, I didn’t really think I would get this far,” Beatrice said. “I really didn’t have enough practice, but I am so excited. Next year I’m going to get it. Next year I’m going to get first.”
Liam Carden, a sixth-grader from Wilson Preparatory Academy, took third place.
Nathan received a trophy for his win and all of the place finishers received a set of virtual reality goggles.
Nathan said he will spend about an hour and a half every morning preparing for the national spelling bee.
“I’ll try to learn all of the prefixes and suffixes and then I will get to a few specific ones,” Nathan said. “I will be studying words trying to get them into my memory.”
For Beatrice, study for the bee was extensive.
“Write it down, look up the pronunciations and do it over a long period of time so that it really gets in your head,” Beatrice said.
Liam was tripped up in the seventh round trying to spell the word bureaucracy.
For Beatrice, the word that messed her up was charlatan.
Janet Beaman, a longtime recorder at the event, said she loves seeing the children challenged by the spelling bee.
“Certainly this is a challenge for them. All of them are winners by being here today. I just love to watch them advance even more,” Beaman said. “I was so proud of all of them, especially the ones that went all the way to the end.”
Spelling, Beaman said, is an important part of communication.
“I know today with social media they don’t spell correctly, but they are communicating,” Beaman said. “I think spelling is just one of the main forms of communication that we don’t need to lose. We don’t want to lose it.”
“Spelling can come in handy with lots of different jobs, especially my job in the future. We have to do a lot of spellings and have to know pronunciations and stuff,” said competitor Tatyana Hines, of Sallie B. Howard School. “Besides, it makes you feel smart.”
Pronouncer at the event was Rebecca Godwin. Chief judge was Timothy Wright. Judges were Robin Williams and Corey Friedman. Recorders were Beaman and Teresa Parker.
Sponsors included The Candy Man, All4 U Property Management, Anita’s Marketing, Western Sizzlin, Billy Webb Heating and Cooling, Boykin Jewelers, Eastern Carolina Pediatrics, Granitops, Joyners’s Funeral Home, Moore’s Auto Body Shop, Parker’s Barbecue, S.T. Wooten, Smithfield Packing, Whitfield Agency and the Wilson Tobs.