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Norman student wins Central Oklahoma Spelling Bee in 26th round

Cole Schafer-Ray, of Alcott Middle School in Norman, will now represent Oklahoma in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May in Washington, D.C.
By Sarah Lobban, For The Oklahoman Modified: March 9, 2013 at 11:09 pm •  Published: March 10, 2013

When people talk about having spells of good luck, they seldom mean it literally.

But at the Central Oklahoma Spelling Bee that took place Saturday at the University of Oklahoma, Cole Schafer-Ray was thinking exactly that.

The sixth-grader from Alcott Middle School in Norman won the bee with the word “phlox,” defined as any of a genus of red, purple, or white flowers.

But before Schafer-Ray could make it to the final round, he had to spell words like “hegemonic” and “exaugural.”

Some, like “dowager” and “peculate,” the 12-year-old had never heard before.

“Those two were definitely the hardest,” Schafer-Ray said. “I just had to guess.”

Of course, Schafer-Ray's victory wasn't simply luck.

He has been participating in spelling bees since second grade, and this is his third year to make it to the state-level bee.

“I read over the spelling lists a lot,” he said of his preparations for the bee. “My brother is my coach. He got second place in state when he was in eighth grade.”

Schafer-Ray will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May in Washington, D.C.

He also won a copy of Webster's Third New International Dictionary, a two-night stay in one of Oklahoma's state parks, a year's subscription to the Britannica Online Encyclopedia, and the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award.

Michael Mandanas, of Edmond, was the runner-up Saturday.

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