DEXTER Dylan J. OConnor, 13, implemented his abilities to win his third straight regional spelling bee championship Tuesday night.
In the ninth round, Dylan, a seventh-grader from Alexandria Central School, sealed his trip to the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., by spelling implement.
He competed against 20 other young spellers, 10 to 14 years old, in the 26th annual Regional Spelling Bee Finals at General Brown High School, where Belleville Henderson student Julia Dodge placed second. The regional finals, sponsored by the Watertown Daily Times and Scripps News Service, featured top spellers from Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties and served as the final step before the national stage.
It was not an easy step, even for Dylan, who memorized all of the more than 1,150 words from a dozen or more origins in the Spell It! list, an official compilation of spelling bee words issued by Scripps and Merriam-Webster.
Joined by his parents, Michael J. and Alycia A., after his victory, Dylan said he felt the bee was a bit easier this year than in years past, something his parents attributed to their sons consistent studying.
Weve done so much more studying this year, Mr. OConnor said. We felt he may have even been a bit overprepared.
In addition to his fervent studying, Dylan and his family credited his success to his technique. Mr. OConnor said his son always makes sure to ask the pronouncer to give the origin or definition of the word or to use it in a sentence. Dylan said he does this to buy time, as mistakes happen when the speller rushes.
A little luck never hurt, either. In each front pants pocket, Dylan had two good luck charms, one of which was from Gabrielle V. Connor, Dylans classmate and best friend. For breakfast Tuesday morning, Mrs. OConnor poured her son a large bowl of Lucky Charms cereal.
Much of a typical day for Dylan is spent in Macsherry Library in Alexandria Bay, where he studies for several hours each day after school. Afterward, he said, he goes to his local Jreck Subs, where he orders what his family and friends call The Dylan. Its a sub with salami, Swiss cheese, pickles and Russian dressing. Its all part of the routine for the boy who still has one more year of eligibility and a chance to head to D.C. for a fourth time.
Its no surprise that as a return contestant to the national bee, Dylan has friends from the past two trips. The excitement begins at the end of May.
Its a full week of events, Mr. OConnor said. Its a really awesome time.
After the first round of the national bee, which is a test of vocabulary and definitions taken on computers, the rest will be televised on various ESPN channels.
Dylan said he started studying Latin this year. Learning new words and languages are two of his favorite parts of competing in the bee.
The whole family was smiling after his victory, but Mrs. OConnor said she was on the edge of her seat.
Theres a lot of stress, she said.
This years competition was less stressful than last years, she said. Last year Mrs. OConnor hurt her back and broke a tooth as Dylan advanced after defeating Elissa Prieto, then a seventh-grader from Case Middle School, Watertown. They were the two remaining for 25 of the 31 rounds.
General Brown High School Principal Tina Hackman said she was happy with how the bee went. She noted that no spellers were eliminated in the first three rounds.
Thats a testament to their hard work, she said. It was very competitive.
All spellers received a book and a certificate of participation from the Spelling Bee Committee. The top six finalists each received a trophy. Those who placed in the top five received a Watertown Daily Times Newspaper In Education subscription for his or her classroom.
Julia Dodge, the second-place speller, also won Merriam-Websters Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, courtesy of Merriam-Webster, Inc.
In addition to his trip to the national spelling bee, Dylan also received a copy of Websters Third New International Dictionary, which has more than 2,800 pages, courtesy of Merriam-Webster Inc.; The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a $100 U.S. Series EE Savings Bond courtesy of Jay Sugarman; a one-year online subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica, courtesy of Encyclopedia Britannica, as well as a trophy and certificate of participation. Travel expenses for Dylan and his family are courtesy of Alexandria Central School and the Watertown Daily Times.
Mr. OConnor said the family plans to donate the dictionary to Macsherry Library.
The 87th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee will take place May 25 to 31.