After 15 rounds and dictionary-proof spellings, Dawson County school system's spelling bee Jan. 30 came down to "achievement" and "tobacco."
Luke Ellis of Riverview Middle School correctly spelled both words to edge Hayley Burt from Dawson County Middle to claim the 2013 title.
"Congratulations on your win, and to all the spellers. You did a very good job on spelling," said Riverview Principal William Zadernak, who presented Ellis with a trophy and dictionary.
The event featured the winners of the spelling bees at each of the system's six elementary and middle schools.
Elementary school contestants included Heidi Williford from Riverview, Kit Robertson from Black's Mill, Micayla Puffer from Kilough and Alejandra Tolson from Robinson. The middle school representatives were Ellis and Hayley Burt from Dawson County.
Rick Brown, the school system's assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, also offered his congratulations to the spellers.
Ellis and runner-up Burt, as the alternate, will advance to the district spelling bee, which will be held later this month.
From district, the top spellers will advance to the state spelling bee and a chance at the national competition.
Last week's systemwide bee at Dawson County Middle School came down to Ellis and Burt.
The two verbally sparred back and forth, with each correctly spelling words such as "weird," "fleece," "campaign," "mathematics" and "apologize."
Near the 10th round, Burt stumbled on "permanent" and it appeared Ellis would snatch victory. However, he also missed the word and Burt stayed alive.
Fast forward another five rounds and Burt seemed to have victory in reach. But after correctly spelling Ellis' missed word of "apologize," she then misspelled her own final word, putting Ellis back in the competition.
Ellis jumped at his chance, spelling back-to-back words of "achievement" and "tobacco" correctly to claim the title.