Ultimately, the word “ultimatum” separated Carver Elementary spelling champ Mason Zent from his closest, competitor, Ryan Wiebold.
Ryan, who along with Mason outlasted eight other competitors for nearly 20 minutes Friday morning while assistant principal David Shultz called out words, missed on the next-to-last letter in “ultimatum,” which opened the door for Zent. He promptly spelled the world correctly, then finished up with “stalwart,” to win the school’s 2015 spelling bee and advance to the district competition.
Mason’s recipe for success?
“I just practiced,” said Mason, whose mom Wendy Zent was there. Mason’s father, Maj. Allen Zent, is stationed at Fort Stewart and is currently deployed to Afghanistan.
At this time last year, the Zents were in Texas, where Mason did what he did here, which is win his school spelling bee and go on to the District competition, placing sixth out of about 90 kids.
“I won it last year in El Paso, and went on to districts, and I was determined to do it again,” Mason said, noting he practices spelling words on the list for two nights, then “right before I got to bed every night, mom quizzes me.”
Wendy Zent said her son loves to read.
“He’s constantly got his nose in a book,” she said. “He does really well at this There were several words on the spelling list I didn’t know how to pronounce, and he just rattled them off really quick. We study quite a bit when it comes to this.”
There were some words on the spelling list that give Mason trouble – “indulgent” for example. “I just can’t get into my head that it starts with an ‘I,’” he said. “And I had a little trouble with nihilism.”
But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Mason’s advice for those who may not be ready to compete in a spelling bee.
“Practice, and tell yourself you will win this, and you will win this,” he said.
Mason out spelled nearly 1,000 students to win the prize, and the final 10 also worked hard and did well, Carver principal Crystal Morales said. They include runner up Ryan, Joseph Kim, Bradley Stewart, Macy McCutchen, Amy Li, Maggie Baker, Kari Hunter and Chris Johnson.
“They’re all great little spellers,” Morales said, not long after handing Mason a trophy nearly as tall as he was. “They work very hard.”