Mary Grace Messick correctly spelled "ramification" on Thursday to win the Columbia County Spelling Bee.
"I don't even know what it means," said Mary Grace, an eighth-grade student from Greenbrier Middle School.
Mary Grace, 14, defeated 22 other Columbia County students competing for the spelling title at Grovetown Middle School.
Grovetown Middle Principal Carolyn Fries likened the spelling bee to the Super Bowl and World Series.
"This is not only exciting, it is nerve wracking," she said.
Mary Grace concurred.
"I was shaking," she admitted.
The bee lasted nine rounds with only Mary Grace and Brookwood Elementary fourth-grader Sarah Thompson remaining.
One of the bee's youngest competitors, the 10-year-old hopes to return for another shot at the spelling title.
"I hope I can try it again," Sarah said. "I'd like to."
Although she doesn't consider herself a natural speller, Mary Grace said she didn't practice before Thursday's competition.
However, now that she's moving on to the next round, she plans to devote more time to preparation.
"I'll be reading the dictionary," she said.
Mary Grace will represent Columbia County in the regional spelling bee held from 10 a.m. to noon March 10 at The Augusta Chronicle building at 725 Broad St. She will compete against 14 other bee winners from nearby counties.
The winner of the regional competition will go on to compete at the 80th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., held May 30 and 31, according to the organization's Web site.
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