The Herald Bulletin

March 6, 2013

Highland student captures third spelling bee title

By Jack Molitor
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — “Hydraulic.”

It wasn’t the word that won the local spelling bee finals Wednesday night at the Anderson City Building. But it could’ve easily tripped up champion Joseph Kirkpatrick of Highland Middle School had it been his word.

Instead, it was given to second-place finisher Bradley Riser of Frankton Elementary in the seventh round. Riser got it right, but misspelled “germane” in the 10th round. Kirkpatrick calmly nailed “legislation” in the next round to claim his third regional bee championship and another trip to Washington, D.C., in his final year of bee eligibility.

Kirkpatrick said if he had been asked to spell “hydraulic,” he might have missed it.

“It’s one of those words that’s got a little twist in it, and it can be hard to spell,” Kirkpatrick said.

Kirkpatrick, a eighth-grader, said he was otherwise relaxed and ready for the bee, which was sponsored by The Herald Bulletin. Winning past championships and knowing the procedure helped him immensely against the 17 other participants, he said.

“I was actually kind of surprised because it was over so quickly,” Kirkpatrick said.

Third-place finisher Larissa Partlow of East Elementary bowed out in the eighth round after missing “servile,” leaving Kirkpatrick and Riser to battle for the championship. Both spelled their ninth-round word correctly, but Riser misspelled “germane” after Kirkpatrick spelled “escalator.” Rules required Kirkpatrick to spell one more word correctly, which he did.

“My mom told me one of the things to remember is once it’s out, it’s out, so you have to take the words slowly and know what you’re talking about,” Kirkpatrick said.

Partlow, 10, said she’s been in the bee since third grade, and she’s never made it this far. She said the words seemed a little easier this year after spending nights studying with her father.

“It was pretty cool to make it this far this time,” Partlow said. “I’ll definitely be there next year.”

Kirkpatrick will now turn his attention to the National Spelling Bee on May 28 in Washington, D.C. He said he’s been using an online study program to help him with words, and he hopes it will launch him to a new level in the national finals.

The final rounds of the National Bee have been shown on ESPN in recent years.

“My goal is to get into the TV rounds, which I haven’t been to before,” Kirkpatrick said. “If I did, that’d be awesome.”

Kirkpatrick also said he was looking forward to the sightseeing aspect of visiting the nation’s capital. He and his family have been to a number of the landmarks the past two years, but they still haven’t toured some of the memorials.

This is Kirkpatrick’s final year of eligibility for the bee, so he said he’s looking to get as much out of the trip as possible. He plans to continue studying words and word origins by taking etymology classes in high school.

Kirkpatrick also said he’s going to keep following the local bee after this year, and he praised Riser’s second-place performance.

“I think he’ll be back and he definitely could win it next year,” Kirkpatrick said.

Find Jack Molitor on Facebook and @AggieJack4 on Twitter, or call 640-4883.