Lincolnview's Una VanWynsberghe (left) and Wayne Trace's Faith Meraz (right) went head-to-head for nearly 10 rounds before VanWynsberghe was crowned champion for the third time in a row at the Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Lincolnview's Una VanWynsberghe (left) and Wayne Trace's Faith Meraz (right) went head-to-head for nearly 10 rounds before VanWynsberghe was crowned champion for the third time in a row at the Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – For the third straight year in a row Una VanWynsberghe, a Lincolnview eighth grader, was crowned spelling champion at the annual Journal Gazett Regional Spelling Bee held at IPFW on Saturday.

It took 28 rounds and a slew of misspellings from VanWynsberghe and runner-up Faith Meraz from Wayne Trace Junior High before VanWynsberghe correctly spelled "satyagraha" – meaning a policy of passive political resistance – in the championship round to win the 64th annual bee.

"We made flash cards a really long time ago, because the spell list is always the same spell list every year," said VanWynsberghe of how she prepared for the bee.

Meraz also had her own way of preparing for the competition.

"My mom looks at the pronunciations for the words, and then we go through them several times," said Meraz. "I also looked at the dictionary a little bit but that was not my favorite part."

Both VanWynsberghe and Meraz say they are avid readers which they believe contributes to their excellent spelling abilities.

 

VanWynsberghe and Meraz were hit with several words that they both had never heard of before, but in the end, Dewey VanWynsberghe, VanWynsberghe's father, said it was luck and a good understanding of various languages that helped VanWynsberghe through.

"I think there is a certain amount of luck involved," said Dewey. "I can't imagine she has ever saw that final world before. She reads a lot, and I think she has a certain understanding of language that gives a lot of clues to how a word is constructed."

Every time VanWynsberghe receives a word she asks all of the questions about the word including "What is the country of origin?" This, says Dewey, helps her get insight to how the word may be spelled.

"She has a gift for language," said VanWynsberghe's mother Rachel VanWynsberghe. "She's always been a reader."

"We want to thank Lincolnview of being so supportive," added Dewey. "They've done well, and we're tickled to death."

Lincolnview High School Principal Brad Mendenhall was present to see VanWynsberghe represent the school for the third time in a row.

"What an awesome accomplishment," said Mendenhall. "We're really proud of her and her family, and we wish her well when she goes to Washington, D.C. I know she has some big aspirations on placing high, and it's an exciting day."

Following the competition VanWynsberghe had to grab her trumpet and head to Wapakoneta for a concert, making for an eventful day.

VanWynsberghe and her family will be heading back to Washington, D.C. in May for the 91st annual Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Last year VanWynsberghe placed 41st out of 200 of the best young spellers in the nation.

In addition to winning an all expenses paid trip to compete in the national competition, VanWynsberghe received The Samuel Louis Sugarman award, a one-year subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online, and a one-year Encyclopaedia Brittanica Online premium membership.

All participants received a medallion to keep, as well as a plaque to be displayed at his or her school.