“I-C-I-C-L-E, icicle,” Robert Wood,11, said into the microphone as he spelled out the winning word for the second year in a row at the Johnson County spelling bee.
The county spelling bee, held at Cleburne ISD Central Offices, involved nine CISD students and four from neighboring districts. Keene ISD fifth-grader Wood went up against Michael Lunn, a Wheat Middle School eighth-grader, for the spelling bee championship for just one round after other competitors failed to spell their words correctly.
Runner-up Lunn said although he seemed confident he was nervous before the contest.
“I was just so nervous, I hadn’t been in a spelling bee since the fifth grade,” Lunn said.
However, he was happy to go up against Wood. Before the spelling bee began, Lunn had a conversation with Wood and told him about how he also attended Keene Elementary School. They became instant friends.
“Before it began I just told Robert, ‘Man, you know, if I don’t win I want you to win,’” he said.
Before losing to the word “honcho,” spelling it with an “a” rather than in an “o” in round 17, Lunn spelled words like “occipital” and “lingua franca” correctly.
David Lunn said he was proud of his son no matter what.
“He’s always a winner in my heart,” he said. “He’s pretty confident and he should be because he’s put a lot of work and a lot studying to get this far.”
Wood, who wants to be a doctor when he grows up, spelled more strenuous words than winning word “icicle” — like “dodecahedron,” “illustrious” and “importunate.”
Wood said he definitely was not nervous about competing especially since he’s already done it before.
“I will say one thing ... it wouldn’t have been possible without God,” the 11-year-old said.
His mother Sheila Wood said three to four times a week after school Robert would go over the spelling list for 30-40 minutes.
Taking as many pictures as she could, Sheila Wood said she was proud of her son for his persistence.
Judges included CISD spokesperson Lisa Magers and CISD curriculum specialists Ginger Tanem and Christy Burton.
Magers, who was a spelling bee champ when she was in school, said she knows she will continue to see the students again for years to come — even the ones who can no longer compete in a spelling bee like Michael Lunn. She said as soon as he starts high school he will continue to spell by being part of the UIL Spelling team.
Robert Wood will compete in the regional spelling bee on March 19 at Texas Christian University. The Scripps National Spelling Bee is May 25-31 in Washington, D.C.