Insidiously tight spelling bee<br>

"I guess. It’s all guessing," he said with a laugh.

He plays hockey, shoots paintball guns and … guesses.

That’s the strategy 13-year-old Granite Mountain Middle School eighth grader Stephen Polk used to win the 55th annual Yavapai County Spelling Been Thursday afternoon. He guessed.

The Bee was held at Camp Verde High School.

Polk beat out 49 other Yavapai elementary and middle school students by spelling the word insidious. Eight grader Rebekah Koch of Beaver Creek School placed second when she failed to spell Coronadite. She becomes the runner-up and Polk’s replacement if he cannot attend state finals in Phoenix.

The nearly three hour showdown came to an anticomplex when Polk, in the seventh round, was the only remaining contestant out of four to spell his word correctly. The word was Tsunami. He was prematurely announced the winner by Pronouncer JoLynne Richter, who properly reversed her decision after parents in the audience pointed out that Polk must also spell "the next word", as stated in rule 12 of the spelling bee rules in use.

When Polk failed to spell Lagniappe, the Bee continued with four contestants for additional six rounds. Two other contestants misspelled words in round 13.

In round 15, after Koch missed her word, Polk correctly spelled iconoclastic and then finished the contest by spelling insidious.

For their accomplishments, Polk and Kock received plaques from Yavapai County School Superintendent Paul Street. Both said they planned to celebrate by going out to eat with family.

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