Leach wins bee

Barnesville eighth grader will go to Scripps National Spelling Bee in May

T-L Photos/SHELLEY HANSON ABOVE: HANNAH LEACH, center, the 2019 Belmont County Spelling Bee winner poses with her parents Cary, left, and Shaun Leach after the competition Thursday at Ohio University Eastern. She will go on to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – All the hours of quizzing from family members paid off for Hannah Leach on Thursday night as the Barnesville eighth-grader is now the 2019 Belmont County Spelling Bee champion.

Leach competed against 17 other spellers during the 33rd annual competition held at Ohio University Eastern’s Shannon Hall.

She will go on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., held May 27-30. Leach, 14, is the daughter of Cary and Shaun Leach.

The runnerup in the competition was Raena Simpson, 14, an eighth-grader at Martins Ferry Middle School. Simpson, who is the daughter of Terri and Mike Simpson, will serve as the alternate in case Leach cannot attend the national bee.

Following the competition, Leach said she was excited about winning and getting to visit Washington.

“I’ve never been there before. I’m excited to go there and see it and experience it,” she said. “It’s something new.”

In preparation for the county bee, Leach had a daily regimen of learning new words and spelling them out loud.

“We studied every night, and Mom and Dad helped me a lot to prepare. And my sister (Mariah) did, too,” Leach said. “When I got home from school we would study for a couple hours. We would have to look them up because we didn’t know a lot of them.”

The final two words that Leach had to spell correctly to win the county bee were “pacifism” and “colloquial.”

For other younger spellers coming up in the ranks, Leach advises them to keep practicing.

“You need to prepare a lot, hard. Take a lot of time to study and you’ll do good,” she said.

Leach’s parents said they are proud of their daughter.

“This is her second year. She’s put a lot of work into it,” Cary Leach said. “She is a real good example of what a kid should be.”

Leach’s teacher/coach at Barnesville Middle School, Denise Leach, also said she was proud, noting she has known the girl since she was a baby.

“I’m very happy she won this time,” Denise Leach said. “I’m proud of her. She worked hard. She will represent Barnesville well and Belmont County.”

The third-place winner was Jane Alexander of St. John Central, while the fourth place winner was Andrew Abel of St. Clairsville.

In addition to Leach, Simpson, Alexander and Abel, other participating spellers included: Anabehle Brandenburg of Martins Ferry; Josalyn Canter of Bridgeport; Maya Metz of St. John Central; Hallie Lawson of Shadyside; Bethany McElfresh of Bellaire; Lee Adkins of Union Local; Jayden Koonce of Bridgeport; McKenna Miller of St. Clairsville; Rachael Lampert of East Richland; Rylie Porter of Bellaire; Clay Utter of Union Local; Peyton McEndree of Barnesville; Gracie Crumm of East Richland; and Madeleine Crum of Shadyside.

In addition to the trip to the national bee, Leach also won $500 in cash; a first-place trophy; a Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online Certificate; The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award; a plaque with two winning words for school display; the Traveling Trophy for school display; and a one-year subscription to the Britannica Online Premium.

Amtrak travel to Washington, D.C. will be provided by Uniglobe Travel. Shuttle service to Pittsburgh Amtrak station will be provided by Airport Limousine Service, Inc.

In addition to The Times Leader, sponsors of the county bee were Belmont Savings Bank, The Health Plan, Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel, Airport Limousine and East Central Ohio Educational Service Center.