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Crystal Lake speller defends county title

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(Monica Maschak – mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Lucas Urbanski of Immanuel Lutheran School spells into the microphone at the annual McHenry County Spelling Bee at McHenry County College. Urbanski overcame 12 competitors and 44 rounds Wednesday to become this year's champion. He will move on to compete in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

CRYSTAL LAKE – P-a-r-a-b-l-e. It was a mere seven letters that catapulted Immanuel Lutheran seventh-grader Lucas Urbanski to his third consecutive McHenry County Spelling Bee win.

The event took place Wednesday evening in the Conference Center of McHenry County College. Family and friends gathered to support the regional winners from McHenry County area schools for the county bee.

Lucas walked away with the title, and the Northwest Herald is paying his way to the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., where he placed 51st in 2012.

Urbanski was greeted by proud friends and family post bee.

“Don’t start crying, dad,” said Urbanski.

The 13-year-old Crystal Lake resident went 44 rounds facing off against his twin sister, Clare, who was amongst the final three contestants but was sent out on the word “hypocrisy.”

Urbanski said his advice for his sister for future bees is simple: “Don’t lose.”

Urbanski finally went head-to-head against Scarlett Costello, a Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School student, who spelled such challenging words as “glockenspiel,” a percussion instrument consisting of a series of graduated metal bars.

“She was some pretty tough competition,” said Urbanski.

Urbanski appeared relaxed on the stage even while in the final rounds of the competition.

“It’s important to stay focused and not zone off while you’re up there,” said Urbanski. “That is bad.”

Spelling bee judge Kim Goglin, a teacher at Marlowe Middle School in Lake in the Hills, said she often sees contestants say a letter that they know is wrong, but can’t take back.

“You can tell they didn’t mean to say it, but once it’s spoken it cannot be retraced,” said Goglin. “Those are the rules, but I always feel bad because I want them all to do well.”

Urbanski said he has been training for months to avoid such instances by using computer programs, reading word lists and having his mother quiz him on random words from the dictionary. Urbanski said he has been using these methods since his initial county bee win in 2011.

“My method doesn’t really change,” said Urbanski. “It’s worked so far.”

The Scripps National Spelling Bee Preliminaries air live on ESPN3 on May 29, with the Championship Finals airing May 30 on ESPN.

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