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23 rounds later, Greenville 8th grader heads to nationals

The 27th-annual Downeast Regional Spelling Bee ended with a cordovan — a variable color averaging a dark grayish red.

That’s the word Ozioma Obi, an eighth-grader from The Oakwood School in Greenville, spelled correctly to win the bee on Saturday. Obi beat out Grant Haze, a fifth-grader from Northwest Elementary School in Kinston, in the 23rd round of the spelling bee. Daisy Morales Bravo, an eighth-grader from First Flight Middle School in Kill Devil Hills, won third place.

With his win, Obi receives an all-expense-paid trip with a chaperone to Bee Week and the Scripps National Spelling Bee, to be held in National Harbor, Maryland, in May.

Obi said he was excited about the win, as was his father, Reggie Obi.

Contestants for this year’s bee came from as far away as Ocracoke and as close as Chocowinity Primary School. Forty-four schools were registered, and 35 spellers participated in the bee where words ranged from an easy “stringy” to a far more syllabic “Meistersinger” (n. A member of any of various German guilds especially of the 15th and 16th centuries formed for the cultivation of poetry and music).

Each participant gets to the regional bee by winning his or her school’s school-wide spelling bee.

Washington attorney John Tate III was this year’s pronouncer; judges included Vail Rumley and Anne Wood, media coordinator for Fred Anderson Elementary School in Pamlico County.

The bee went 23 rounds and lasted approximately three hours.

Beaufort County schools were also represented by Tate Tucker, Chocowinity Middle School, 5th grade; Hollie Strain, Chocowinity Primary School, 4th grade; Alison Groover, John Small School, 4th grade; Julieana Harding, S.W. Snowden Elementary School, 7th grade; and Aubin Sadler, a fourth-grader from Unity Christian Academy. Alison Groover lasted late in the battle, making into the eighth round.

The Downeast Regional Spelling Bee is sponsored by the Washington Daily News, with assistance from Nutrien. The bee was held at the historic Turnage Theatre in downtown Washington.