BELMONT County's Spelling Bee Champion Marcus Clark spelled his words correctly while on stage in the second and third rounds of the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday but didn't qualify as a semifinalist in the very competitive event.
Barbie McKeegan, spelling bee coordinator at Martins Ferry's middle school, referred to the 278 students in the bee as "a really, really good group of spellers." She said that Clark, who is the gifted program at the Martins Ferry school, was "very confident" and "cool, calm and collected" when he was on stage Wednesday.
"We are very proud of him," she said.
Martins Ferry resident Marcus Clark, far right, spends time Wednesday with some fellow spellers during the preliminary rounds at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Clark correctly spelled his words on stage in Rounds 2 and 3 but did not qualify for the semifinals due to an exceptionally gifted group of spellers this year.
Noting that competition was very tough and involved "a tremendous bunch of spellers," McKeegan said most of the students spelled their words correctly in the second and third rounds. "The number that spelled incorrectly (in each of those two rounds) was approximately 30," she explained. "It probably came down to what they did on the written test."
The written test, held Tuesday, included 50 words with the spellers graded on 25 of them. A spot check of the words includes at least two - urbicarian and pogonotomy - which aren't included on dictionary.com. The first is in reference to "of the city" while the second describes "the cutting of beards."
Also on the written test were words such as outrecuidance (excessive presumption) and tomalley (the liver of a lobster).
McKeegan said the results of the written test were not given to the public but were emailed to the parents.
In the second round, Clark correctly spelled olid (foul-smelling) while the word that he spelled correctly in Round 3 was iodopsin (a violet, light-sensitive pigment found in the retinal cones of the eye). Iodopsin also is not included in dictionary.com.
The 12-year-old county champion had a variety of family members attending the competition. In addition to his parents, Ryan and Heidi Clark, family members included his sister, Maria, his maternal grandparents, Barb and Joe Younkins, of Martins Ferry, as well as an aunt and uncle from North Carolina and an uncle from the Washington, D.C. area.
Before going to the national bee, Clark as a sixth grader made history as he is the first student from the Martins Ferry School District to be the champion in the Belmont County Spelling Bee, sponsored by The Times Leader and Riesbeck's.
Perhaps, that's not too surprising since his favorite words to spell are autoschediastic, astrophysicist and otorhinolaryngology.
The traveling trophy from the county bee went to the middle school in Martins Ferry.
McKeegan said plans are to watch the championship round live on ESPN tonight from 8-10.
Among the 50 spellers competing in the semifinals today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. was Dharani Kotekal, 14, who is being sponsored by The Herald-Star, Steubenville. This marks her second appearance in the Scripps National Spelling Bee as she also competed in the 2010 event.
Kotekal, who has just completed eighth grade at Indian Creek Junior High School, is interested in learning new languages, and she can read and write Kannada, Hindi and German. Astrology and space are among her interests, and she also was selected to participate in the first Ohio State University Honor Band.
A "beekeeper" is one of the things keeping Clark busy in Washington. McKeegan said the spellers were giving beekeepers on which to get autographs.
"He's trying to get as many autographs from spellers as he can," she said. The coordinator went on to say that one of the autographs is from a student from Ghana, who also gave Clark a bracelet with the name of the West African country on it.
"There are spellers from all over the country and a few other countries as well," added McKeegan.
Clark and other spellers will be given a tour of the Washington, D.C., Friday morning, and he'll also attend the awards banquet and farewell party that night.
The Times Leader and Riesbeck's provided an all-expenses paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the national bee for Clark, a parent and the spelling coach. Those two sponsors also provided the traveling trophy.
In addition to the all-expenses paid trip provided by The Times Leader and Riesbeck's Food Markets, Clark received prizes from other sponsors. Included are travel courtesy of Airport Limousine Service Inc. and AAA Ohio Auto Club, a $500 cash prize courtesy of The Citizens Bank, a first-place trophy, a Webster's Third New International Dictionary, The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a plaque with the two winner words for school display, a one-year subscription to Britannica Online for kids and an Amazon.com gift certificate.
Pokas can be reached at email@example.com.