Rachael Cundey spelled her way into another championship on Tuesday.
The sixth-grader at Lakeside Middle School three-peated as the Columbia County Spelling Bee champ.
Rachael defeated her competition in just 12 rounds with the correct spelling of "Gestapo."
School officials believe Rachael is the first pupil in the county to win three spelling bees in a row, said Sharon Carson, the school system's director of middle schools.
"I think this feels as special as it did the first time," said the 12-year-old, who first won the contest as a fourth-grader. Officials believe she was the youngest to ever win the countywide bee at that time.
"It seems to be getting easier," said Rachael, who practices year-round for the bee. "This one went faster than the others."
Spellers from 25 Columbia County elementary and middle schools competed in the bee at Grovetown Middle School. Most exited in the first three rounds. By round 10, only three spellers remained -- Rachael; Savannah Shivers, an eighth-grader at Stallings Island Middle School; and Shreyu Umapathy, a fifth-grader at Blue Ridge Elementary.
Rachael will compete in the regional spelling bee at 10 a.m. March 5 in the Morris Auditorium of The Augusta Chronicle on Broad Street. She also has won that competition for the past two years.
The winner from that contest then will contend for the national title June 1-2 in Washington, D.C.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is perhaps the most recognizable academic competition in the world. Last year, preliminary rounds of the bee were televised by ESPN with the final round airing on ABC.