Columbia County Spelling Bee champ Rachael Cundey will attempt another repeat Saturday.
The South Columbia Elementary School fifth-grader was the first back-to-back winner last month of a county spelling bee in more than a decade.
Rachael now will try to win, once again, the regional spelling bee at 10 a.m. Saturday at The Augusta Chronicle building in the 700 block of Broad Street.
Though nervous, the 11-year-old said she has been rigorously practicing and is ready.
"I'm studying Spell It ," Rachael said. "It's a booklet containing a lot of the types of words we'll be getting."
She also has been using Internet resources available to her through the official Web site of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, www.spellingbee. Those resources include an intensive study of the languages of origin of words.
"Depending on the origin of a word, that can make a difference in how you spell it," said Rachael's mother, Tammy Cundey, a special-needs teacher at South Columbia.
For example, Rachael said that in Spanish words the "y" sound typically is spelled using "ll", as in "tortilla."
"I've been trying to study all those rules for spelling with words based on their country of origin," Rachael said.
If the studying pays off and Rachael repeats as the regional bee champion, she'll again compete at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. It is scheduled for June. 2-4.
Last year, when Rachael was a fourth-grader competing in the county bee, no one saw her coming. Cundey believes competing as a underdog helped calm her daughter's nerves.
During the bee in February, everyone knew to beware of Rachael, and still she won.
"I think she'll get back that underdog status," Cundey said. "And I think that will help her."
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