After hours of competition, two spellers finally took first places in the 2016 Kings County Spelling Bee Friday at the Civic Auditorium.

Seventh-grade winner Mico Sarsozo from Woodrow Wilson Junior High School and eighth-grade winner Cesar Bazua from Jefferson Charter Academy beat 21 other spellers to win in their respective grade levels. The win sends Mico and Cesar to compete in the state championship in May in San Rafael. 

On thursday, fifth-grader Jonah Campos from P.W. Engvall Elementary and sixth-grader Grace Nguyen from Pioneer Middle School won first in their grade categories. They will both compete in the California State Elementary Spelling Bee April in Stockton.

“My legs hurt first of all, from the lightning round,” Mico said. “I didn’t think I was going to win.” 

In the lightening round, spellers are asked to spell more challenging words to determine who will win the bee in their grade level. Spellers stand in a line waiting their turn to come forward to the microphone.

Mico said at first he had no interest in the spelling bee but agreed to do it when his teacher asked the class if anyone wanted to participate.

Mico said he had to compete against classmates at his school in order to qualify for the Kings County bee. 

“I thought it was a friendly competition at school,” he said.

After 52 rounds, Mico won the bee by spelling “idiosyncrasies” correctly. Nathanael Atmajian from Hanford Christian School placed second and Tristan Bouit from Armona Union Academy placed third.

“I am happy that I got to represent my school,” Mico said.

Mico’s mother, Glenda Sarsozo, said that he was very nervous about competing in the bee. She said she encouraged him to try and see if he could win.

“Of course I’m so proud of him and so happy,” she said.

She said her son practiced for a week for the Kings County Bee and believes he will have to practice more for the state championship.

“He is very scared of going to state,” she said.

Leana Cantrell, spelling bee coordinator, said the seventh-grade round was the most intense round she watched over the course of the week.

She said the battery on her microphone ran out because of how long the spellers lasted.

Typically, each round lasts about three hours. The bee at the seventh-grade level lasted more than three hours and had spectators sitting on the edges of their seats waiting to see who would misspell a word.

Cantrell said she was impressed by how many rounds students lasted.

Cantrell said the second-graders went through 64 rounds at the bee on Tuesday. She said each speller supported each other as they spelled  words correctly. She said she introduced each student as their spelling bee friends.

The top three spellers in each grade level received trophies. All students received a medal for participation and a gift certificate for Black Bear Diner.

The spelling bee was held by the Kings County Office of Education with Jeff Frasieur as spell master.

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