With a “finesse” for “vivisection,” San Francisco de Asis seventh-grader Katrina Vollmer won her second Coconino County spelling bee in a row.
Vollmer had to spell both words to be named the champion, after second-place finisher Edward Wang left off the final “e” in “finesse.”
Vollmer said she was not completely sure how to spell it, but took her best guess. However, she said she knew the championship word, “vivisection” as soon as she heard it.
In order to be named champion, the speller must correctly spell their opponent’s misspelled word, as well as an additional word. If the speller misses one of the two, the pattern continues until someone gets both right.
18 students from across the county competed in the bee Saturday morning, all after winning their school or homeschool group bees. Students made the trip from Grand Canyon Village and Fredonia to compete.
The first two rounds of the bee claimed the most casualties, with four spellers eliminated in each round.
After third place-finisher Kevin Bushman, an eighth grader from Sinagua Middle School was eliminated, Vollmer and Wang, a fourth-grader from DeMiguel Elementary went four extra rounds to determine the champion.
By the end of the third round, Vollmer was the last girl remaining among the spellers, but continued to spell words correctly, not missing any, even in the championship rounds.
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Vollmer advanced to the state bee last year as well, but said she did not do as well as she had hoped because she was “really nervous.”
This year, she is going back with a purpose.
“I’m going to do even more studying,” she said.
Her strategy during the bee included asking for each word in a sentence, which she said gave her some extra time to make sure she knew the correct spelling.
Vollmer said she studied the Scripps National Spelling Bee word lists to prepare for the school and county bees, and said she will continue even harder for the state bee, which will take place March 19 in Phoenix and will be broadcast on PBS.
When she is not studying her spelling, Vollmer likes to play soccer, run cross country and hang out with her friends. Her favorite books are the Harry Potter series.
When it was announced she was the back-to-back winner, Vollmer said she was very excited.
“I’m really proud of myself,” she said. “I’m really happy.”