MORRISON – How do you spell relief?
If you ask Ashtyn Folgers, then you spell it A-P-O-S-T-R-O-P-H-E.
The Rock Falls eighth-grader nearly bungled the spelling of the often-abused piece of punctuation in one of the last rounds of the Whiteside County Spelling Bee on Monday.
But Folgers went with her gut and bested 20 other spellers through 13 rounds of nearly 100 words to become the champion of the county bee. She won with the word "patriarch."
The 13-year-old, who attends East Coloma School, made her first appearance at the county bee, and will represent the county at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.
The second-place finisher was Morgan Mandrell, a sixth-grader at East Coloma School. The third-place speller was Christopher Ahlers, an eighth-grader at St. Mary's School in Sterling. The fourth-place finisher was Ashlyn Ingram, a seventh-grader at Unity Christian School in Fulton.
Folgers was excited about her win.
"This is awesome," she said.
The eighth-grader studied hundreds of words every day for weeks. She tapped her sister, Morgan, who won the county bee 2 years ago, and her parents, Neal and Libby, for help at night. She pored over the word list during study hall.
Folgers was flustered earlier in the bee by the word "kremlin," but she asked for the language of origin (Russian) and chose to spell it with a "K" rather than a "C."
Folgers almost flubbed the word "apostrophe," but she took a long pause and a deep breath and spelled it correctly.
"If I get confused, I go with my gut instinct," she said.
Folgers is not nervous about her appearance on the national stage. She'll study – "not too hard" – but she'll mostly enjoy the moment.
"I'm excited about having the experience of being able to spell the words," she said.
In addition to her trip to the national bee, Folgers won a $100 U.S. savings bond, Webster's Third New International Dictionary and its Addenda Section, and a 1-year online subscription to Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Mandrell took home Webster's Third New International Dictionary and a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate.
Ahlers won Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and a $20 Amazon.com gift certificate. Ingram took home Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and a $10 Amazon.com gift certificate.
Sponsors of the bee are the Whiteside County Regional Office of Education, Illinois State Bar Association, Whiteside County Bar Association and Sauk Valley Media.
The following words tripped up the contestants at the Whiteside County Spelling Bee on Monday. Would you have spelled them correctly?