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Spelling bee finalists battle to the end

8th Grader Sean Ives shows off his 1st place trophy after winning Spelling Bee Regionals for 2nd year row Wheeler

8th Grader Sean Ives shows off his 1st place trophy after winning the Spelling Bee Regionals for the 2nd year in a row at Wheeler High School on March 8, 2014. | Jim Karczewski\For Sun-Times Media

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And the winners are ...

First place

Sean Ives, 14, of Crown Point, eighth grade, Trinity Lutheran School

Second place

Sophia Panos, 13, of Schererville, eighth grade, Forest Ridge Academy

Third place

Adam Akan, 9, of Dyer, fourth grade, Montessori Children’s School House

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Updated: April 10, 2014 6:59AM



WHEELER — Sean Ives is off to his second Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in late May, but the win didn’t come easily.

Sean, 14, an eighth-grader at Trinity Lutheran School, spelled “modular” correctly to win the final spelling bee Saturday at Wheeler High School.

But that came after 34 rounds of spelling, including two rounds from a list of words he and the other two finalists hadn’t seen before. The competition was so stiff, the final two spellers went another five rounds to determine second and third place.

In all, 17 spellers from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties took part in the bee, after making it through district bees on their way to the national competition.

The final spellers were so good, the proctors ran through their list of 300 words — after skipping 100 along the way to move things along — and had to take a break before deciding to go with another list.

“This has never happened before,” master of ceremonies Michael Rosta said.

The break came after 20 rounds with the final three contestants going through words including “Holi,” “hemerocallis,” and “pogrom,” never missing a beat.

Rosta congratulated the spellers once the rounds were finally done.

“I’m not sure if you guys are as exhausted as we are, but that was very stressful. It looks like we’ll have to prepare with better words next year,” Rosta said. “That was amazing.”

Sean, of Crown Point, said he’ll spend the next several weeks going through practice vocabulary tests that are part of the national competition.

“That contributes to your overall score,” he said.

While Sean made it through the district bee a few weeks ago to go on to the final, he didn’t place. That didn’t seem to hold him back Saturday.

“Well, what can you say? It’s a God-given talent. He just gets into a stride, though it doesn’t always fall your way,” said his mom, Jodi Ives.

Since Sean won last year, this year’s bee was even more pressure, she said, adding she was glad it was done.

Sean is waiting to find out if he made the state geography bee — he went to nationals in that last year, too, extending his time in the nation’s capitol — though this is his last year in the spelling bee, since it’s for third- through eighth-graders.

“This is a nice way to go out,” his mom said. “His goal is to get in the top 50. He was close last year, so he can taste it.”



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