Sixth-grader wins 2019 regional spelling bee title | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

Sixth-grader wins 2019 regional spelling bee title

  • Salisbury's Austin Loar is headed to Washington, D.C.

    Saturday, March 2, 2019
    Regional spelling bee champion Austin Loar

    Austin Loar employed stoic discipline - words he spelled correctly - on his way Saturday to winning the 2019 Maryland Eastern Shore Regional Spelling Bee. 

    The Salisbury Middle School sixth-grader will represent Dorchester, Somerset, Worcester and Wicomico counties at the Scripps National Spelling Bee the last week of May in Washington, D.C. 

    Loar, 12, secured the champion's medal by spelling “beachhead” correctly in round 15.  Praneeth Galigutte, a fourth-grader at Delmar Elementary School, was the runner-up in a field of 25 spellers. 

    “My legs were shaking like crazy,” Loar said as he awaited the word that would give him the win.  After a moment of hesitation, he acknowledged questioning whether there was a single or double “h.” 

    “I knew the word,” Loar said. “I told myself 'I am able to spell it.'” 

    After nine-year-old Galigutte stumbled on “hoaxer,” Loar first had to spell “gracefully,” which he did literally and figuratively. 

    Sheila Loar said her son's calm, on-stage demeanor is a reflection of his personality. 

    “We're so proud of him,” she said. 

    Loar eschewed questions about a word's country of origin, definition or to hear it used in a sentence.  Instead, he handled words such as brackish, hydrology and bobbin with ease. 

    After winning his school-level competition, Loar followed online advice from the Scripps organization on preparing for the regional bee, which the University of Maryland Eastern Shore has sponsored since 2013.  He estimated spending two-to-four hours a week of extra study on spelling. 

    Words of Slavic origin, he said, give him the most trouble. 

    Loar credited English teacher Tara Elliott with instilling in him the confidence he could win the regional event.

    The champion was hoping to celebrate with lunch that included a dish featuring “ramen,” a word Aaron Zheng spelled correctly -- ironically just before Loar did the same with “expertise.”