The Grayson County Spelling Bee offered a sense of deja vu Wednesday when the same two students finished first and second for the second straight year. Sherman Independent School District student Shomoy Kamal, who is a sixth grader at Dillingham Intermediate School, took first again after a hard fought battle with runner-up Lydiea Carrasco-Bueno, an eighth-grader from Piner Middle School.

Carrasco-Bueno was also first runner-up last year but their friendly rivalry does not stop the two families from spending time together. Carrasco-Bueno and Kamal's fathers play tennis together every Saturday.

The bee, which was hosted by Grayson College's Van Alstyne campus, lasted 20 rounds. The final rounds went back and forth between Kamal and Carrasco-Bueno. Kamal's winning word was “slaughter.”

Kamal was excited to come out on top again. He said he has been studying for around two hours each day in preparation for the bee.

“I have been reading and my dad has been testing me on the school list and on the 'Spell It' list every day after school,” Kamal said. “It's important to me because I like being known around my school as the person who is best at spelling.”

His father, Syed Kamal, said his son has made a lot of sacrifices during the preparation process.

“We are very proud,” Syed Kamal said. “He cuts down on his video game time to have more time to study.”

Syed Kamal went on to say he believes his son's participation in the regional bee last year helped to prepare him for this year's competition.

“It helped him because of the exposure he got last year,” Syed Kamal said. “He was better prepared this time. What is considered advanced here at the county bee is where they start at the regional bee.”

Carrasco-Bueno said she has been a good speller for a while but did not choose to compete until last year. Her strategy was to break words down into smaller chunks that are easier to spell.

“I studied the list, which was about 450 words,” Carrasco-Bueno said. “I studied whenever I could at home or sometimes at school if I had some free time.”

Nine students competed in the county bee. The schools represented included Van Alstyne, Gunter, Howe, Piner, Dillingham, B. MacDaniel, Scott, St. Mary's and Texoma Christian School.

Dean of Grayson College's South Campus Kimberly Williams has been helping host the event for the last 12 years. She believes the winner selection from the regional competition in Dallas for the national bee in Washington D.C. will be slightly different this year.

“This year they will be sending two winners from the regional,” Williams said. “That's great because the kids spent a lot of time studying. It's amazing to watch.”

The regional spelling bee will be held March 24 at the George W. Bush Presidential Center in Dallas.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is often referred to simply as the National Spelling Bee. The competition is held annually in the U.S. and run by the not-for-profit E.W. Scripps Company. The national competition is held at a convention center in Washington, D.C. the week following Memorial Day weekend each year.