Cass spellers sweep annual meet

Published 11:56 pm Thursday, March 2, 2006

By By JOHN EBY / Cassopolis Vigilant
DOWAGIAC - Cass County's best speller, Elizabeth “Lizzy” Mays, led another excellent showing by Cassopolis at the 23rd annual spelling bee at Southwestern Michigan College Monday.
Lizzy, 14, an eighth grader, finished fifth in 2005 when Cassopolis sixth graders Trent Conn, Ryne Nickel and Brendan Westrick captured second, third and fourth, but Blake Terrill of Marcellus averted a sweep by taking the individual title.
This year there was no holding back the tide of Cassopolis pride, for Lizzy was no lone Ranger on stage at SMC's Dale A. Lyons Building.
Second place went to seventh grader Brian Craft and third to eighth grader Sasha Lanier, both of Cassopolis.
Edwardsburg nailed down fifth and sixth places with seventh grader Caitlyn Reese and eighth grader Dakota Yancy in the four-district contest in which Dowagiac and Marcellus also participate.
Cassopolis also dominated morning team competition, winning in eighth grade with 45 words over the Dowagiac Chieftains' team of Justin Mersereau, Brandy McDonald, Chelsea Kaphaen, Macy Howard and Yasmine Chambliss. Edwardsburg and Marcellus tied for third with 40 each.
Kelly Hargrove coaches the seventh grade squad of Ryne Nichol, Brian Craft, Brendan Westrick, Anna Bosler and Lila Cox which, with 46 words, cruised past Edwardsburg (36), Marcellus (33) and Dowagiac (28).
Sasha said they have been practicing since December. “It's dedication on their part. They have so much pride,” the Cassopolis coaches said.
Lizzy reads a lot and spelling “has always come easily to me,” she said. “I see the words in my head and then it just comes out.”
Lizzy enjoys acting in plays, competing on math team and in Science Olympiad, playing volleyball, playing clarinet in band and serving on Student Council. She is the daughter of David Mays and Suzzane Mays.
Lizzy expects spelling to come in handy as she advances in school. “I write stories, so it will be good for the editors. They won't have to work so much,” she said.
After school, “There are so many possibilities, I'll just work toward everything. That way, I know I'll be okay at whatever I choose to be,” said Lizzy, who won a trophy along with a $50 savings bond.
She and Brian went back and forth for three rounds, through endocrine and vigilante, billiards and solitaire and fulsomely. When Brian missed manicotti, Lizzy spelled it and centurion correctly to clinch the individual title among fifth through eighth graders.
Cassopolis won among fifth grade teams, 37, to 33 for Edwardsburg, 30 for Marcellus and 27 for Dowagiac.
Cassopolis won among sixth grade teams, 40, to 38 for Marcellus, 37 for Edwardsburg and 35 for Dowagiac.
The separate fourth grade individual contest went 14 rounds before Victoria Pearson of Cassopolis triumphed. Rachel Benjamin of Edwardsburg was second.
Edwardsburg's fourth grade team won with 42, to 39 for Cassopolis, 37 for Marcellus and 36 for Dowagiac.
Summer Dohm of Cassopolis, in 1992-93, remains the bee's only two-time winner.
Brian Wood, Lewis Cass Intermediate School District director of instructional services, coordinates the event.