Lakeside Middle School pupil wins her 4th straight Columbia County Spelling Bee

Lakeside Middle School's Rachael Cundey correctly spelled "triage" to win this year's Columbia County bee.

With the correct spelling of “triage” on Monday, Rachael Cundey won her fourth consecutive Columbia County Spelling Bee.

Rachael, a seventh-grader at Lakeside Middle School, won the annual contest in the 13th round.

School officials said they think Rachael is the winningest speller ever to compete in the county bee.

Rachael first won the spelling bee as a fourth-grader at South Columbia Elementary School in 2009, making her the youngest contestant ever to win at the county level.

With each win, Rachael said, she grows more confident in her spelling abilities.

“The more words I learn, the easier it gets each time,” she said.

To prepare, Rachael studied Latin to better understand word origins and tested herself with word lists used in former spelling bees.

After 10 rounds of the spelling bee, five pupils out of 26 remained in contention.

The words got tougher in the 11th round, as three spellers were eliminated. Remaining were Rachael and Blue Ridge Elementary third-grader Ivan Nguyen.

Ivan fell in the 12th round by misspelling “chaffinch.”

Rachael now will go on to compete next month in the regional spelling bee, sponsored by The Augusta Chronicle, which she has won the past three years. The winner of the March 3 event will go to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 27 through June 1.

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