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MCC's Heidi Bau is regional spelling bee winner

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Murray County Central's Heidi Bau shows off her first place trophy during award presentations at the Southwest Minnesota Regional Spelling Bee at the elementary school in Slayton.

SLAYTON -- Correctly spelling the words "beneficial" and "temporarily" netted Murray County Central student Heidi Bau the championship trophy Saturday morning during the annual Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee in Slayton.

Bau started the day with 55 other fifth- and sixth-grade students from schools throughout the region in a 35-word written spelling contest. The top 11 students from that round advanced to the oral competition, where they were each asked to spell the same five words.

One by one, the contestants entered the room inside MCC's West Elementary as pronouncer Kathy Miller asked them to spell campaign, morale, mortgage, ineligible and bouquet.

Bau was one of five contestants who made it to the final round, and one of four representing the Murray County Central school district. Other MCC students in the finals were Adam Martin, Grant Rohrer and Emily Sechser. Oliver Wolyniec, a student at Prairie Elementary in Worthington and the 2008 Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee champion, rounded out the group of finalists.

Sitting before an audience of more than 90 people, including fellow students, each of the finalists was asked to spell a word. Those who did so correctly advanced, and those who did not were asked to sit for the remainder of the contest.

After the first round, Rohrer was knocked out after incorrectly spelling capacity to earn fifth place. Wolyniec bowed out after four rounds with the word exercise, and Sechser was finished in the ninth round with an incorrect spelling of accompanied.

That left MCC students Martin and Bau, who alternated spelling challenges for 16 rounds. Among their words were acquire, radioactivity, similar and casually.

In the end, Martin incorrectly spelled sufficient, leaving Bau to spell two words correctly for the championship.

"It's fun, but I got nervous," said Bau with her championship trophy in hand.

Her toughest word of the day, she said, actually came in the sixth round of the finals, when she was asked to spell "available."

After writing the word out on paper, she paused and then considered rewriting the word.

"I had to stop because I wasn't sure," she said.

Bau takes part in spelling quizzes weekly at school, and said she studied word lists Saturday morning prior to the contest.

"Everybody did a really good job today," she said of fellow contestants.

The MCC team garnered the team trophy after Saturday's event, while Worthington's Prairie Elementary accepted the runner-up trophy. Also honored at the event were the top winners in the written contest, Kendra Doerr of Hills-Beaver Creek and Brandon Schmit of Jackson County Central.

Other schools represented in the spelling bee were Edgerton, Fulda, Round Lake-Brewster, Southwest Star Concept and Windom.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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