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Martin wins spelling bee at Worthington Middle School (with video)

First-place winner Sam Martin is shown after Wednesday's spelling bee at Worthington Middle School.2 / 4
Students who will compete at the Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee are (back, from left) Xochitl Tobias, Sam Martin, Davis Moore, (front, from left) Anna Meyer, Kristy Workman and Kaitlyn Baustian.3 / 4
Eleven students participated in the spelling bee Wednesday at Worthington Middle School.4 / 4

WORTHINGTON -- Sixth-grader Sam Martin spelled his way to success with the word "squadron."

Martin was among the 11 fifth- and sixth-grade students who competed in the Worthington Middle School spelling bee championship Wednesday morning.

The first round started with easier words like "garnish" and "cement" before progressing to more challenging words that eliminated all but two contestants -- Martin and Kristy Workman.

"I was in it last year, but I only made it to the second round," said Martin, who admitted he was not nervous during his second spelling bee event Wednesday.

He only misspelled two words -- "Olympian" and "traverse" -- before making it to the final session.

Martin credited his love for reading in helping him win first place.

"I read a lot," he said. "My favorite is the Percy Jones series."

During the final showdown, Martin and Workman were tied after the first three words until Workman stumbled on the word "orienteering."

Earning second place was still an achievement for Workman, who said that it was her first time participating.

"When I was sitting down, I started to panic, but when I heard the first few words, I thought, 'This wouldn't be so bad,' so I told myself to calm down," Workman detailed. "Before the spelling bee, I flipped through the dictionary and placed my finger on words to spell out."

Sixth-grade teacher Paula Wolyniec explained that all fifth- and sixth-graders took a written test. A second written test was given to the top 26 students. The top 11 students were then selected to participate in Wednesday's spelling bee.

"Even in this age of computers, spelling well is crucial to clear understanding," Wolyniec said. "It's fun to give our students the opportunity to show off their spelling prowess."

All 11 contestants received dictionaries provided by the middle school.

Martin and Workman will join three other students who placed in the top five at Wednesday's event for the upcoming regional spelling bee.

Sixth-graders Xochitl Tobias Kaitlyn Baustian earned third and fourth place respectively. Fifth-grader Davis Moore secured fifth place.

After a tie-breaker against Evan Peters, Anna Meyer earned the alternate participant position.

The WMS spelling bee team will compete at the Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee on April 14 at Worthington Middle School.