Winning spelling bees might seem like nothing new for Rachael Cundey, but the four-time Columbia County champion said she still gets butterflies when competing.
“I still get excited every time,” said the Lakeside Middle School seventh-grader. “I’m never absolutely sure (I’ll win).”
Rachael’s nervousness, though, didn’t interfere with her again winning the Columbia County Spelling Bee on Monday.
In the 13th round, Rachael won the contest with the correct spelling of “triage.”
Rachael’s uncertainty about winning also hasn’t stopped her preparing for the next level.
Next month, she’ll try to “four-peat” at the regional spelling bee for a chance to again travel to Washington, D.C., for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.
In previous years, Rachael studied words she expected to hear at the upcoming spelling bee. This year, she skipped word lists for the county and regional bees to study words she might hear at the national contest.
Last year, Rachael started to teach herself Latin and the countries of origin for words to improve her spelling abilities.
“In Greek, for example, an ‘r’ sound can be spelled with a r, r-h, or r-r-h,” she explained. “Knowing that gives me a better chance at getting it right.”
In addition to spelling, Rachael plays flute in the school band, belongs to Lakeside Middle’s Academic Bowl team, and is on the Math Team.
But the spelling bee takes priority, Rachael said.
“That’s always going to be most important.”