Twelve times Friday, Williamstown Elementary sixth-grader Iram Majad stepped up to the microphone, received her word and spelled it correctly.
The 12th word - ocelot, a wild, spotted cat found in North and South America - won her a trip to Washington, D.C., representing the region in the Scripps National Spelling Bee June 1-2.
"I was pretty confident on all of them," the 11-year-old Majad said after receiving her trophy for winning the 31st annual Marietta Times Regional Spelling Bee Friday night.
Iram Majad wins the Marietta Times Regional Spelling Bee with "ocelot."
"When I knew I could spell ocelot, I started smiling 'cause I knew I was going to win," she said.
Majad was the last of 49 spellers standing in the Marietta High School auditorium. The fifth- through eighth-graders represented eight school districts and three private schools on both sides of the Ohio River.
"I was sort of, like, scared 'cause ... for the first couple rounds, everyone was getting them right," Majad said.
In the early rounds, spellers were dealt words both familiar, like troll, ferret and pheasant, and those more obscure like doodlebug, shoofly and layette. By the end of the fifth round, about two hours into the competition, the field of 49 had been whittled to 16.
In the sixth round, nine spellers were eliminated.
A few minutes later, it was down to Majad and Powhatan Elementary eighth-grader Dicey Stewart. Stewart faltered on "poignant" before Majad won with "ocelot."
First place: Iram Majad, sixth grade, Williamstown Elementary.
Second: Dicey Stewart, eighth grade, Powhatan Elementary.
Third: Lauren Huffman, eighth grade, Warren Elementary.
Fourth: Amanda Bennett, eighth grade, Hannibal Elementary.
Fifth: Caleb Cheadle, eighth grade, Blennerhassett Middle School.
Stewart, participating in her second regional spelling bee, said she was nervous as the numbers decreased. Based on her experience the first time, she said she made it a point to ask for definitions of words when she needed them.
What Stewart didn't do, she said, was study as much this time as she did for her first regional bee.
"I studied (in the car) on the way down," she said.
Majad started studying her first word list over Thanksgiving break, before her school's bee, she said. The amount of time she spent on subsequent lists each week varied depending on what other activities she had that week.