Practice paid off for Michael Havasy on Monday as the North Augusta Middle School student cruised to victory at the Area II Spelling Bee.
The seventh-grader only needed three rounds and four words to take the title he narrowly missed a year ago. Last year, Michael placed second in the Area II Spelling Bee before winning the Aiken County Spelling Bee a few weeks later.
On Monday, he correctly spelled, in order: congratulations, obituary, perfectionism and sentient.
“It feels good,” Michael said about his win at North Augusta High School.
The 12-year-old said he practices his spelling several times a week with his mother, Caryl Havasy, by printing off word lists from the Internet.
“Those really help,” said Michael, who also uses a dictionary application to help him with pronunciation.
The spelling bee, which featured first- and second-place winners from elementary and middle schools in the North Augusta and Belvedere areas, fielded 12 contestants Monday.
At the end of the first round, only three contestants remained, including 10-year-old Makena Griffis, of Hammond Hill Elementary School, who finished second.
She correctly spelled “impossible” and “societal” before stumbling on “contrivance” and will join Michael in the Aiken County Spelling Bee on Feb. 3.
The fifth-grader said her unorthodox preparation for the spelling bee helped her succeed Monday.
“Actually, I don’t really study,” she said. “I read. In the books, there are hard vocabulary words. I’ll go back and look at the word, have it in my brain and try to spell it.”
Makena said she spends about an hour each week reading and learning new words and expects to squeeze in more practice time in hopes of taking the county title next month.