Columbia County spellers square off Monday

Eighth-grader will go for five wins in a row on Monday
Lakeside Middle School's Rachael Cundey will go for her fifth consecutive win in the Columbia County spelling bee.



Lakeside Middle School eighth-grader Rachael Cundey has won every Columbia County spelling bee she’s entered.

On Monday, she will defend her title for the last time at Grove­town Middle School, taking on spellers from the county’s other 25 elementary and middle schools.

As an eighth-grader, this is her final year of eligibility. Rachael knows that gives her a high profile, much more than her first win.

“It's just a lot more pressure now,” she said.

Rachael has won the county bee for the past four years, all the years she’s been eligible. Since her streak began, third-graders now are allowed to compete, and she’ll face a handful of them Monday.

If one of those youngsters win, they would beat another of Rachael’s records: As a fourth-grader, she was the youngest ever to win the county competition. She’s also the only speller ever to win the regional competition three years in a row.

Even so, "she still prepares just as hard, I can tell you that," said her mother, Tammy Cundey.

Part of that preparation? She wears something purple, which she does for all competitions.

"It's my favorite color," she said, and it helps keep her calm.

Even so, she admitted, "I'm going to be really nervous."

All 26 competitors will square off at 4 p.m. Monday at Grovetown Middle School.

The winner will compete in the regional bee, set for 10 a.m. March 2 at The Augusta Chronicle’s Morris Audi­torium.

The regional winner will receive an expense-paid trip to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26-June 1 in Washington, D.C.

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