OSWEGO, NY – You can’t spell champion without FSB; at least not very often in Trinity Catholic School’s Adult Spelling Bee.
After having to settle for fourth place in last year’s eight-team spelling competition, Fulton Savings Bank was once again a force to be reckoned with in the 2014 friendly war of words.
At The American Foundry on Friday night, nine teams spelled off to earn the right to claim the title and the championship plaque, engraved with the names of all the previous winners.
The 15th annual bee turned into a heavyweight boxing title bout lasting a record-setting 22 rounds with FSB and Eagle Beverage standing toe-to-toe in the center of the ring trading haymakers.
The words come from the same list as used in the academic spelling bees. The list began with words like: hat, yes, gum and cool.
Therefore, Vernon Tryon, the bee’s pronouncer, kicked off the competition at 7:30 p.m. using words closer to number 200 on the list.
But the competitors were more than up to the challenge.
Members of the winning FSB team were David Mirabito, Kurt Phaneuf and Karen Santore. Making them fight to reclaim the crown were members of the Eagle Beverage squad Allison Peer, Marilyn Magner and K.C. Maniccia.
For the last several rounds, the two teams traded word for word with the opponents congratulating each other on correctly spelling difficult words that probably are hardly ever used in polite conversation these days.
Besides FSB and Eagle Beverage, the other three-person teams included:
Trinity Catholic School Teachers, Oswego County Historical Society (sponsored by Robert McKinstry), Oswego Speedway Small Block Super Drivers, Oswego Speedway Supermodified Drivers, The Rad Spellers, Team NRG Energy, Spell Like Team Spirit (sponsored by Greene’s Ale House).
One by one, the teams slipped away.
NRG found it impossible to make it out of the very first round as they added an “A” to “notoriety.”
Oswego County Historical Society didn’t fare any better as “cabal” conspired against them.
In round 2, “premises” was Team Spirit’s downfall.
Oswego Speedway’s Small Block team was burned by “flambé” in round 3.
“The pressure’s off now,” Tim Annal, the master of ceremonies for the evening, quipped to the Speedway’s other team. “You’re beaten them.”
“Firmament” sent the second Speedway team to its seats in Round 4.
While everyone made it though the 5th round, the next round claimed the Trinity Catholic Teachers as they were confused on “obfuscate.”
For the next several rounds, the spellers showed off their spelling talents. Each team showed its word prowess as each of the next rounds was completed in less than a minute; sometimes, it was two or three rounds per minute.
However, round 12 was the last stop for The Rad Spellers.
Reconnoiter can be spelled two ways (ter or tre at the end). However, Rad failed to get either.
And then, there were two. It took another 10 rounds to decide a champion.
The two elite spellers traded words such as Appurtenances, Panacea, Vacuousness, Cordillera and Epee (which prompted Peer to ask, “Do we get extra points for the accents?”).
Mirabito wasn’t timid about spelling Pusillanimous.
Then came Inchoate, Sahel, halal, mnemonic, lokshen (a Yiddish word adopted from a Russian dialect word of Turkish origin).
Peer tried spelling out lokshen on her leg as the team huddled.
However, she spelled it: “Lauchen,” leaving FSB with a chance to win its 8th title out of 15 bees.
It all came down to Kibei (a child of Japanese immigrant parents who is born in North or South America and educated largely in Japan).
As Mirabito finished spelling just before 9 p.m., Tryon proclaimed, “That’s it!”
“You’ve got a former English teacher, a high school English teacher and you’ve got a wordsmith here,” Phaneuf said following the hard-fought victory. “We were prepared. We did a lot of studying. The first word that we came to that we were actually stymied was the last word.”
“When we knew that it was Japanese, that helped,” Mirabito said. “That helped a lot. And the word that they got before …”
“Oh yeah, we were lost on that,” Santore said. “Thankful that wasn’t our word.”
“That was a good buildup as far as difficulty,” Phaneuf said.
“We’re going to keep the team together,” Mirabito said. “We’ll be back next year.”
Peer said they hopped to be back for 2015 as well.
“Many of the words were tough,” Maniccia said, adding “There were some words that other teams got that we knew how to spell and I was like, ‘Hey, that is my word! I know that word!’”
“How’d they ever pull out that last word? Who’s ever heard of that?” Peer asked rhetorically. “We really studied hard for this. We actually studied and had several practice sessions. We never entered before. We want to come back and win next year!”
Following the bee, there was a silent auction featuring a huge variety of locally donated goods.
The event coordinator was Jennifer Windsor with Sandi Moran as the official greeter.
The spelling bee is designed to inspire educational values, team spirit and camaraderie and to raise funds for the support of the Catholic school, according to Principal Barb Sugar.
Sugar thanked all the teams and sponsors for participating and everyone in attendance for supporting Trinity Catholic School.
“Thank you for coming back and helping us,” Windsor added. “And, it is always nice to have new teams join us. Thank you so very much for joining us.”
“There were some really hard words tonight; it was the longest competition that we’ve ever had. But, the teams were up to the challenge,” Sugar said. I can’t believe how long it went on tonight. There were some very hard words. Congratulations to all the spellers and thank you for helping support Trinity Catholic School.”
The annual Trinity Catholic School Community Adult Spelling Bee is one of the school largest and most popular fund-raisers.
The judges for the competition were Anthony and Helen DiMartino with Steve Yablonski of Oswego County Today.com serving as the official timekeeper.
Previous winners are: Reynolds’ Law Firm (2000), Fulton Savings (2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011*, 2012 and 2014), Pathfinder Bank (2002), Nestegg Credit (2004), Catholic Community of Fulton (2007), Mimi’s (2009), Holy Trinity Parish (2010, 2013).
*A scheduling conflict for some of the competitors forced the October 2011 edition to be conducted in January 2012. The 2012 bee was held in November of 2012.
Trinity is the sole Catholic school in the county; it is supported by all parishes in the county.
For more information, call 343-6700.