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.