CRYSTAL LAKE – For 32 rounds, 14-year-old Crystal Lake twins Lucas and Clare Urbanski went back and forth, spelling word after word after word.
The two ran out of the words provided to the 11 spellers – one speller couldn't make it to the competition Wednesday evening at McHenry County College – ahead of time and moved on to a continuation list provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
And for a second, it seemed like Clare Urbanski would topple her brother from his spot as the reigning McHenry County Spelling Bee champion.
Lucas Urbanski misspelled "junket," but in the first sustained objection to the pronouncer's alternative pronunciation in recent memory, the Urbanskis were back at it until "cyclical" took down Clare. With the successful spelling of "listlessness," Lucas clinched his fourth win.
"I never realized how competitiveness they are until just now," their mother, Maureen Urbanski, said. "They're competitive kids but not with each other."
Sitting waiting for a decision to be made about the objection, Clare Urbanski didn't know what she'd do next.
She questioned whether she should throw the next word, which would bring Lucas back in for another go, but she figured that's not the way he'd want to win.
It was her second year participating in the county bee, having taken third place last year. Between travel softball, basketball, volleyball and the clarinet, studying for the bee didn't get crammed in until four days beforehand.
Her brother, on the other hand, studied an hour a day, watching videos of other bees to practice the off-list words.
Lucas Urbanski will head to Washington, D.C., this May for one last shot at the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee championship. He made it to the semifinals last year.
"I'll be a little relieved when it's all over but more sad," he said, adding he'd like to help out at the county bee in the future.