Wicomico Middle’s Gia Bautista takes Spelling Bee title yet again

Gia Bautista, a Wicomico Middle School eighth-grader, left, on Saturday outdueled Erin Welch, right, in a marathon “spelldown” to repeat as champion. Welch was the 2014 runner-up.

Gia Bautista, a Wicomico Middle School eighth-grader, left, on Saturday outdueled Erin Welch, right, in a marathon “spelldown” to repeat as champion. Welch was the 2014 runner-up.

Gia Bautista, a Wicomico Middle School eighth-grader, successfully defended her Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee championship this past Saturday at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

Gia, the 2014 winner, outdueled Erin Welch in a marathon “spelldown” to repeat as champion. Welch was the 2014 runner-up.

Each spelled some three dozen words with seeming ease before Erin tripped up on “plummet,” omitting one of the “Ms.”

Gia accurately spelled “curate”, positioning herself to win the event by spelling one more word: “blustery.” She nailed it and the audience in the Fitzgerald Center for the Performing Arts erupted.

Gia and Erin went 27 rounds a year ago before Gia emerged as the winner.

“It’s a relief,” Gia said as her family offered congratulations. “I really wanted to win again, but I was a little nervous.”

Erin, a 6th grader at St. Francis de Sales Catholic School, was gracious in finishing behind her friend for the second year in a row. She hugged the winner and offered congratulations.

“Maybe next year,” Erin, 11, said with a shrug and smile.

Gia, 13, qualified to represent the lower Eastern Shore at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington May 24-29.

In addition to an all-expense paid trip to the event awarded by UMES, Gia also received a medallion, a year’s subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica online and Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged.

The 44 rounds needed to identify Gia as the area’s top speller was the longest in the three-year history of the competition sponsored by UMES.

Gia employs a strategy seen at the national level by using a finger to spell the word on her hand as an imaginary tablet, which she said “helps (her) visualize the word.”

Erin’s strategy was more subtle; she tapped her leg while effortless spelling all but the last one correctly.

In addition to the traditional challenge of spelling words, competitors occasionally had to show they knew a word’s meaning by answering a multiple-choice question. The national competition now features a computer test requiring competitors to demonstrate they know definitions of words in addition to spelling them correctly.

Cade Stone, 13, didn’t let nervousness distract him. The Salisbury Middle School student animatedly offered “high fives” to fellow spellers who sat next to him.

Scripps provides regional bee sponsors with a set of scripted words to challenge competitors and this year food was clearly a theme. Pretzel, tamale, knish and ravioli were among words on the 2015 list.

One word Stone, an 8th grader from Salisbury Middle School, was asked to spell was “chipotle,” which elicited a “yum” from him before he spelled it correctly.” Everyone chortled.

As your community newspaper, we are committed to making Salisbury a better place. You can help support our mission by making a voluntary contribution to the newspaper.

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.

Facebook Comment