No thicket too dense for county’s champion speller

By Bryan Richardson

He avoided a wolverine and navigated a gondola. When he emerged unscathed from a thicket, Brett Seaton won the championship of the Riley County Spelling Bee Saturday.

A fifth grader at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary, Brett is the son of Jacqi and Ned Seaton. He claimed the title in the tenth round by correctly spelling “thicket” after Anna Zachary, a home-schooled eighth grader, misspelled “wolverine” in the ninth round.

Brett said he got lucky a couple of times with “gondola” being his toughest word. A gondola is a long, narrow, flat-bottomed boat with a high prow and stern used on the canals of Venice.

Apparently, Brett wasn’t wondering since he didn’t ask for a definition or for the word to be used in a sentence before spelling it. “I was just saying it in my head,” he said.

Brett said his teacher gave him words used in the spelling bee from 2000 to 2012, and his dad helped him practice.

Brett and Anna, the daughter of Libby and Chip Zachary, will also participate in the regional spelling bee on March 2 in Topeka.

The alternate is Meganne Morrand, seventh grader at Eisenhower Middle School. She is the daughter of Shari and Terry Morrand.

The alternate position was determined by a post-bee spell-off between Morrand and Tate Wickstrum, a seventh grader at Riley County Grade School. He is the son of Trista and Todd Wickstrum.

The spell-off was set up by both participants going out in the same round after making the top four spellers.

The other students who participated in the spelling bee included:

Kayla Lei, fourth grader at Bergman Elementary

Ethan Evans, fourth grader at Lee Elementary

Alice Le, fourth grader at Northview Elementary

A.J. Hicks, fifth grader at Ogden Elementary

Wendy Gao, fifth grader at Marlatt Elementary

Alexis Ward, fifth grader at Amanda Arnold Elementary

Antonio Gruenbacher, fifth grader at Manhattan Catholic Schools

Alec Bluemel, sixth grader at Bluemont Elementary

Cameron Comstock, sixth grader at Woodrow Wilson Elementary

Dillon Groves, seventh grader at Blue Valley Randolph Middle

Aldoi Dougherty, seventh grader at Anthony Middle School.

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