After record-setting Douglas County Spelling Bee, 2 eighth-graders moving on to state contest

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Samad Farhat, left, an eighth-grader at Southwest Middle School, and Asher Wolfe, an eighth-grader at Raintree Montessori School, emerged as the top two finishers in the Douglas County Spelling Bee on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Asher won first place, and Samad won second. The two will now move on to the state spelling bee, which will be held March 9 in Wichita.

After a 90-minute, 30-round competition that ended in a long back-and-forth spelling duel, two eighth-grade students will be moving on from the Douglas County Spelling Bee to the state competition.

The bee ended with Asher Wolfe, of Raintree Montessori School, correctly spelling “beryllium” and “ambuscade” to take first place.

Right behind Asher was Southwest Middle School’s Samad Farhat, who had a perfect run in the bee until he failed to add the “D” at the end of “eviscerated.” The results weren’t final until officials listened to an audio tape that confirmed Samad did indeed leave off the “D.”

In all, Asher and Samad went back-and-forth for 15 rounds after the other spellers had been eliminated.

As the county bee’s top two finishers, Asher and Samad will now compete in the state spelling bee on March 9 in Wichita.

The bee was sponsored by the Journal-World and moderated by Scott Stanford, publisher of the Journal-World.

Stanford said he was impressed by the quality of the competitors.

“This was the most competitive bee we’ve had since I started working the event in 2015,” Stanford said.

The bee set a new record in terms of the number of rounds it lasted, officials said. Asher and Samad both said they thought the bee would go on for many more rounds.

Asher said it was the first time he had represented Raintree in the county bee, while Samad said it was the third straight year he had represented Southwest Middle School.

Other contestants in the county bee were Brenden O’Connor, of Baldwin Intermediate Center; Olivia Hogelin, of Baldwin Junior High; Manaal Hasan, of Billy Mills Middle School, Sean Ruddy, of Bishop Seabury Academy; Aiden Holder, of Broken Arrow Elementary; Eli Cokelet, of Cordley Elementary; Isabella Ball, of Corpus Christi Catholic School; Charlie Maples, of Deerfield Elementary; Jack Cline, of Eudora Elementary; Quentin Greer, of Eudora Middle School; Anders Benson, of Hillcrest Elementary; Emma Bozarth, of Kennedy Elementary; Brady Johnson, of Langston Hughes Elementary; Benny Vaughn, of Lawrence Virtual School; Oliver Reed, of Liberty Memorial Central Middle School; Sequoia Gulotta, of New York Elementary; Olive Minor, of Pinckney Elementary; Tristan Wentling, of Prairie Park Elementary; Liam Smith, of Quail Run Elementary; Sriyan Sankaranarayanan, of Schwegler Elementary; Adrian Dickey, of St. John Catholic School; Davian Copeland, of Sunflower Elementary; Aven Handshy, of Sunset Hill Elementary; Grace Wilhelmi, of Veritas Christian School; Hannah Stone, of West Middle School; and Kristen McGaw, of Woodlawn Elementary.