Bee winner persistent

Fort Frye eighth grader was runner-up the past 2 years

A veteran speller from Fort Frye will be going to Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day weekend, having won the Marietta Times Regional Spelling Bee Friday night.

Hannah Archer, a 13-year-old eighth grader, never betrayed any hesitation as she outlasted 63 other spellers to win in round five of the competition. After Lakyn Campbell, a 13-year-old seventh grader from Jackson Middle School in Wood County, misspelled “motif,” Archer correctly spelled “spinet” and “blase” to take the trophy.

Archer will represent the Marietta region in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, taking a trip to Washington courtesy of the Times.

“It feels good to win after being runner-up those times,” she said.

It was Archer’s fourth year in the competition, and she finished runner-up in the past two. She said she’s never been to Washington and wants to see the Capitol.

She said she had practiced every night, fitting her spelling discipline into a schedule that includes basketball and track and field. Sometimes her father helped, and sometimes she used the practice program provided by the spelling bee. The key, she said, is to practice each word many times.

Mike Archer, her father, said Hannah is competitive, with involvement in school sports, and after trying the spelling bee in fifth grade and finishing third discovered she had a knack for spelling.

“She doesn’t have a lot of free time, but she’s pretty good about spending that time studying the words, and we support her in whatever way we can,” he said.

The trip to Washington, he said, will allow her not only to see historical sites but also to meet other students from around the country.

The evening began with 64 spellers onstage and more than 100 parents and supporters in the audience of the Marietta High School auditorium. The first round was a practice exercise, with the spellers announcing their names and schools, then returning to spell easy words they’ve be cued for in advance to get used to navigating the stage and using the microphones.

More than 20 went down in the second round, several felled by food (artichoke, tamale, salami) and music (Wagnerian, bolero). In round three, music continued to cause problems, with spellers going down over harpsichord, crescendo and allegro.

When round five began there were 16 spellers left, and the field rapidly narrowed with increasingly difficult words — gourami, contrapuntal, maelstrom, lederhosen — until only Campbell and Archer remained.

Campbell said afterward she’s eager for the next opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to next year,” she said.

Campbell said she practices by taking words from the spelling bee list, writing them down and then looking them up to get saturated with familiarity. She gave her family and “amazing treachers” credit for helping her.

Her mother, Rita Campbell, said Lakyn is “so prepared, so disciplined, she’s just a motivator.”

“And she loves the stage,” she said.

At a glance

Marietta Times Regional Spelling Bee

Top five spellers:

¯ Winner: Hannah Archer, 13, eighth grade, Fort Frye.

¯ Runner-up: Lakyn Campbell, 13, seventh grade, Jackson Middle School.

¯ Third: Catie Sleek, 14, eighth grade, Fort Frye.

¯ Fourth: Matthew Taylor, 12, sixth grade, Williamstown Elementary.

¯ Fifth: Mya Green, 12, seventh grade, Veritas Classical Academy.