ELKINS - After spelling "ephemeral" and then "fuselage" Wednesday evening at the Bridgeport Conference Center in Clarksburg, Elkins Middle School eighth-grader George Triplett won the West Virginia RESA 7 Regional Spelling Bee and will now head to the national competition.
The contest went 28 rounds before Triplett's win. A total of 52 students representing nine West Virginia counties competed in the Regional Spelling Bee.
"Each step of the way, the words I have been asked to spell have been more difficult," George said. "I was surprised that I won but when I won I said this is no mistake. I put in loads of hours studying to make sure I won."
George said he received a 500,000-word dictionary with his win, He said he will now begin readying himself for the next step.
"I will be preparing and studying and trying to memorize as many words as I can," George said. "I also won a $2,500 college savings bond, two AFLAC ducks and lots of little items from the sponsors."
George will move on to represent RESA 7 West Virginia during the National Spelling Bee May 27 to 29 in Washington, D.C.
Local Spelling Bee co-coordinator Becky Whiteman said she was thrilled by George's win.
"We are so proud of George and his accomplishment," Whiteman said. "We have not had anyone go this far before."
Whiteman said George has competed in the local and regional spelling bees for five years.
"He has won third place at the Regional Spelling Bee before," Whiteman said.
Elkins Middle School Principal Rich Carr said George is a special kid.
"He has worked very hard to win this honor," Carr said. "He is a great leader. If things need done, he will get them done. George has a wonderful family who has helped him study and prepare to win this contest."
Paul Zickefoose, co-coordinator of the Randolph County Spelling Bee, traveled to the Clarksburg competition with George and his father.
"It was a very exciting contest," Zickefoose said. "It came down to two contestants and they both kept spelling the words correctly. After 28 rounds, George came out the winner."
Zickefoose offers his congratulations to George.
"You can tell how hard he worked, and it paid off," Zickefoose said.
George said his desire to be a champion speller came when he was in fourth grade.
"My teacher took the class to the other classroom, and we had a contest," he said. "After I won, I decided I would compete as much as possible and study hard to win. I was so anxious, worried and excited, I could not sleep the night before the competition."
George is the son of Jeff and Sylvia Triplett.