Warren Elementary sixth-grader Diamond Decker doesn't compete in spelling bees just because her older brother, Kyler, does.
"I think it made me want to do it even more, so that I could try to beat you," she said to her brother when talking Tuesday about following in his footsteps.
"And have you been successful at that?" Kyler, an eighth-grader, deadpanned in response.
Warren Elementary eighth-grader Kyler Decker, left, spells a word read to him by his sister, sixth-grader Diamond Decker, Tuesday at The Marietta Times offices. Both siblings will compete Friday in the 33rd annual Marietta Times Regional Spelling Bee.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
"Almost," Diamond said.
The Deckers are one of two pairs of siblings - along with Barlow-Vincent Elementary's William and Michael Christian - in a field of 49 students from two dozen schools who will take the stage Friday at the Marietta High School auditorium for the 33rd annual Marietta Times Regional Spelling Bee. The winner earns a trip to Washington, D.C., and the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26 to June 1.
Although Kyler will be making his fourth trip to the regional competition, he still expects to feel some nerves, especially since no matter how much he studies, he won't know which word he'll be asked to spell until he steps up to the mic.
If you go
What: 33rd annual Marietta Times Regional Spelling Bee.
When: 7 p.m. Friday.
Where: Marietta High School auditorium.
Who: 49 students from 24 schools in Washington and Monroe counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants counties in West Virginia.
Cost: Free and open to the public.
"Sometimes your luck can run out on you and you can get, like, schadenfreude," he said, referring to one of the challenging words of German origin from the lists he and his sister study.
At times, they study them together, although things can get a little too competitive.
"Sometimes we just have to put the list down and relax for a little bit," Kyler laughed.
But their mother, Debbie Decker, said that competitive spirit only runs so deep.
"They're actually quite supportive of each other when the time comes," she said.
Like Kyler, Williamstown High School eighth-grader Iram Kingson is no stranger to the regional bee. In fact, Kingson won first place two years ago and finished second in 2012.
"I'm kind of nervous about this year because it's going to be my final year," she said.
Kingson admitted to feeling a little bit of pressure since she's done so well the last two years, but added that "I kind of like it."
St. John Central eighth-grader Adam Roe said the lesson he's learned from two previous berths in the regional bee is "to not get too competitive." He said he was disappointed when he was eliminated the first year but "I think I've matured a little bit."
Roe said the way he prepares for the bee has also changed. The first year, his parents helped him study words.
"Now it's gotten to where I've just normally done it myself," he said.
While Roe and Kingson have past experience to draw upon, Lawrence Elementary sixth-grader Audrey Erb is competing in the regional bee for the first time. She's both excited and nervous, she said.
"It's kind of neat that I'll get to go in there," Erb said. "I don't think I'll win, but it'll be fun to go in front of all the people."
Whipple resident Renee Seabolt is another regional bee rookie. The seventh-grader is representing the Ohio Virtual Academy, an online community school. But Friday won't be her first time facing other students in a spelling competition; she earned her entry by winning a bee for Ohio Virtual Academy students held at the Washington County Public Library in Marietta.
"It was fun. I actually met a couple people from my class online," Seabolt said.
Seabolt said she spends half an hour to an hour each day studying, both solo and with help.
"I have family test me, and I shut myself up in my room and study," she said.