County champ heads to national spelling bee

CRYSTAL LAKE – Going to the Scripps National Spelling Bee has become an annual tradition for the Urbanski family.

McHenry County’s four-time reigning spelling bee champion Lucas Urbanski is set to participate in the 2014 National Spelling Bee, which begins Tuesday.

This is the fourth time he has gone to the spelling bee, and the last time he is eligible to participate.

“I’m feeling better from last year, but you can never truly tell,” Urbanski said.

“I think you get better with experience, so that helps,” the 14-year-old added.

Last year, Urbanski finished tied for 19th place.

To prepare for the bee this year, Urbanski has been working with a computer program, copying words into a notebook, and reviewing words he had missed.

He said he was most looking forward to seeing the friends from Kansas, Pennsylvania and West Virginia he has made during previous bee trips.

Urbanski said he expects to have time to swim, play board games and even go to a barbecue.

The Immanuel Lutheran eighth grader said he wasn’t sure if he would be studying at night while at the bee.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, he is scheduled to participate in the preliminary rounds, which includes a computer-based test, and two rounds on the stage, which will air on ESPN3. The semifinals, which will air on ESPN2, and championship rounds, on ESPN, are scheduled for Thursday.

When he’s on stage, he says he doesn’t notice the cameras for the ESPN broadcast.

On Saturday, the Urbanskis were flying out to the Washington, D.C., area where they will spend a week. The trip is set to include stops at the National Archives and the National Gallery of Arts.

“This is so exciting for us, even though it is our fourth time,” said Maureen Urbanski, Lucas’ mom.

In previous trips, the Urbanskis have visited the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian and various war memorials in Washington, among other things.

“It’s a lot of fun, and a great experience,” Lucas Urbanski said.

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