Spelling bee champs are in Seattle regional

March 16, 2009

By Jim Feehan

Austin Sivret

Austin Sivret

Siddharth Murching

Siddharth Murching

Two Issaquah School District middle school students will be among about 50 competitors in the regional spelling bee March 22 in Seattle. Austin Sivret, a seventh-grader from Maywood Middle School and Siddharth Murching, an eighth-grader from Beaver Lake Middle School, won their respective school bees last month to advance to the regional competition featuring the top spellers from King and Snohomish counties.

Sivret doesn’t fit the stereotype of a spelling bee virtuoso. He participates in wrestling, football and baseball. When he’s not playing sports, he’s playing guitar with his band, the “Sweet and Sourz.”

Last year, Sivret said goodbye to his chances in the Maywood bee by incorrectly spelling sayonara. But this year was a different story.

“I look through the study booklet of words and spell them,” he said. “The booklet also offers tips for words from different languages such as French and Latin.”

The word that won it for Sivret this time around was samaritan. During the 90-minute competition, Sivret correctly spelled spectrum, gregarious, apostrophe and other words.

Meanwhile up on the plateau, Murching was flying through the Beaver Lake competition.

The eighth-grader seemed like a human dictionary as he spelled words posed to him at the school spelling bee in February.

Insidious.

No problem.

He spelled it without even breaking a sweat.

Toss a linguistic curveball and Murching is equal to the challenge.

Murching spelled P-A-L-A-T-E, the roof of the mouth separating the mouth from the nasal cavity. Organizers were thinking along the line of P-A-L-L-E-T, the flat wooden structure that supports merchandise while being lifted, as in a pallet full of Cheerios at Costco.

At first, organizers disallowed Murching’s response, but after some consultation allowed for his answer, he said.

The final word, the one where Murching stood onstage alone, faced with winning a trip to the regional spelling bee or sitting down in defeat, would have been a mistake-maker for most. But Murching refused to lose.

F-U-S-E-L-A-G-E. A curious word, it comes from the French fuselé, “spindle-shaped” and refers to an aircraft’s main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo.

Murching nailed it.

But beyond the studying and some luck, Murching’s success comes from the back of his brain, a place that just knows which letter goes where.

“I read fairly often, and if I don’t know a word, I try to spell it,” he said.

Sivret, Murching and other spelling champs from middle schools in King and Snohomish counties will compete at the regional bee. The winner advances to the National Spelling Bee, May 26-28 in Washington, D.C.

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