R-E-P-E-A-T champion

Ferry’s Theaker wins second consecutive Belmont County Spelling Bee

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — For the second year in a row, Jacob Theaker will visit Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals after taking home first place in the Belmont County Spelling Bee on Thursday evening.

After 11 rounds competing against champions from school districts across the county and with only two of the original 18 students left on stage, the Martins Ferry Middle School eighth-grader secured the vistory by correctly spelling the words “rhizome” and “lidocaine.”

Chloe Meholovitch, an eighth-grader at Shadyside Middle School, is this year’s runner-up and the county alternate to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

She was eliminated after incorrectly spelling the word “jicama.”

Following the competition, Theaker said the win felt “amazing.”

He also said he felt this year’s bee was more difficult than last year’s.

Theaker said the key to his success was countless hours of studying with the assistance of his mother, Jennifer. He said repetition and continuously studying the spelling bee words helped him in the competition.

He noted that “a lot” of the study-sheet words were the same as in the previous year.

Theaker’s parents, Rich and Jennifer Theaker, expressed how proud they are of their son. Rich said he was both surprised and honored at his son’s win.

“He really worked hard,” he added.

In their studying efforts, Jennifer said the hardest part was learning the correct pronunciation. She said it helps to repeatedly read the words aloud, carefully sounding each one out.

Theaker’s victory will lead him to the nationa’s capital to compete in the Scripps contest on June 1.

He said he plans to visit the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which was closed last year when he made the trip to compete in the 2022 national bee.

He said he also looks forward to enjoying the hotel where he and his family will stay in during the trip.

As the first place winner, Theaker was also awarded a $500 cash prize, a trophy, a Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online Certificate, The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a plaque with the two winning words for display at his school, a traveling trophy for the school, a one-year subscription to the Britannica Online Premium, as well as a trip to the national bee for himself, a parent and a teacher or coach.

After securing second place in the competition, Meholovitch will serve as the county alternate to the national bee and will travel to Washington if Theaker cannot attend. She received a $250 cash prize, a second place trophy and Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

Clay Utter, an eighth-grader at Union Local Middle School, took home third place, which came with $150 and a trophy. Jaden Beck, an eighth-grader at Bridgeport Middle School, secured fourth place and received $100 and a trophy.

The remaining 14 finalists received a certificate to be redeemed for $50 each, ribbons, certificates and bee bobble heads. Those contestants included Paisley Farrier, Brett Kuprowicz, Greigh Schnelle, Liv McCrate, Olivia Bober, Drake Finnicum, Bryden Volan, Ryland Wehr, Adeline Jackson, Mason Jarrett, Shekinah Palmer, Hannah McCracken, Elizabeth Fulton and Gracie Evans.

Cash prizes were provided by Belmont Savings Bank, while Bordas & Bordas provided the “Golden Ticket” award and the Ohio River Elks provided the bee bobble heads.

This year’s Belmont County Spelling Bee sponsors include The Times Leader, Belmont Savings Bank, Bordas and Bordas, Airport Limousine, Uniglobe Travel and East Central Ohio Educational Service Center and the Ohio River Elks.


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