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Ryan Runager, Decatur Heritage Christian; Andrew Wisner, Priceville Elementary School; Clint Livingston, Priceville Junior High School; and Julia Wright, of Lacey’s Spring School were the last four competitors in the Morgan County spelling bee. Wright placed first.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Ryan Runager, Decatur Heritage Christian; Andrew Wisner, Priceville Elementary School; Clint Livingston, Priceville Junior High School; and Julia Wright, of Lacey's Spring School were the last four competitors in the Morgan County spelling bee. Wright placed first.

Lacey's Spring girl finds spelling winner rewarding

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com · 340-2432

Competitors in the Morgan County District Spelling Bee discovered what pressure is Friday morning in Decatur.

Missing one word meant elimination — fini (French for finished).

There weren't any do-overs or second chances in this unforgiving competition.

The eliminations began slowly as the 31 competitors from the Decatur, Hartselle and Morgan county school systems, along with Decatur-area private schools, quickly spelled the words given to them by Mary Marquart, federal programs coordinator for Morgan County Schools.

But then the words became more difficult, and students fielded words like laryngitis, rhinoceros and meddlesome, and eliminations came more quickly.

It took eight rounds to get down to two, Priceville Junior High's Clint Livingston and Lacey's Spring School's Julia Wright.

In the finals, if a student missed a word, the competitor fielded the same word. If the competitor was correct, she got another word.

A correct spelling and the competition was over.

Livingston went first in the finals, and his word was "tardigrade." He missed it. Several of the educators said after the meeting they probably would have missed it, too.

Wright got it right.

"I just took a wild guess," she said, after the competition. She then won with the word "perdition."

When her competitor missed the final word, she said, "I thought, 'Oh my gosh.' I got very, very nervous. My heart felt like it was beating out of my chest."

Wright, who lives with her grandmother Evelyn Kent and is the daughter of April Wright and Jason Wright, said the tall trophy was her first-ever trophy.

She said she began studying every night, often for hours at a time, after winning Lacey's Spring School's spelling bee Dec. 9. Last year she finished second in the school competition, "but this year I really wanted to win," Wright said.

Andrew Wisener of Priceville Elementary was third, and Ryan Runager of Decatur Heritage Christian Academy was fourth, giving Morgan County four of the top spots in the competition.

Wright now advances to the state spelling bee March 10 at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

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