'Austin Chronicle' Adult Spelling Bee

Winner Mike Petrina
Winner Mike Petrina (Courtesy of Ryan Edwards)

The 12th Annual Austin Chron­icle Adult Spelling Bee took place last Thursday at Threadgill's World HQ. The weather was perfect for drinking beer, spelling four-syllable words, and raising money for the Austin Public Library.

Nearly 100 hopefuls took the first of two qualifying tests, but only 21 contestants made it to the stage, including last year's winner, Mike Petrina. However, frequent champ Geoff Thevenot did not appear to be in attendance. The library's Erika Allbright presented, with color commentary provided by Dan Hardick, the Chronicle's resident Luv Doc.

The night's first misspelling was of "contretemps," pronounced "KAHN-truh-tahn." (Hint: If it's French, there's likely a silent letter in there somewhere.) While some spellers were knocked out fairly quickly, others made it through quite a few rounds, correctly spelling such obscure and not-so-obscure words as "surcingle" and "luau." Petrina, who had returned from Arlington, Va., to defend his title, did so flawlessly. Runner-up David Millard gave him a run for his free beer, confidently spelling several entirely made-up-sounding words, only to falter at "repugn." Millard had been there before – he lost to Thevenot in 2012.

Petrina said that of all the bees he's competed in, ours is the most fun. He prepares by going through the dictionary and memorizing the words he doesn't know. When asked for his technique, Millard shrugged – he just knows a lot of words.

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