B. McDaniel Intermediate School District Spelling Bee lasted 23 rounds Thursday morning before fifth grader Zachary Woodress won the competition, which was held at the Denison Independent School District Administration Building.

The final rounds of the event, which consisted of 17 fifth and sixth grade students, were a hard fought battle between three students. Woodress’ winning word was micrograph.

Denison ISD Director of Instruction Shonda Cannon explained the competition lasted so long extra words were used.

“We have a list and we reached the end of the published list,” Cannon said. “Then there is a list of extra words if you make it to that. This is only the second time that we’ve made it to the extra words that I can remember. That’s impressive.”

Woodress was followed closely behind by runner up Aries Favors from fifth grade and third place winner Jared Sanchez from sixth grade.

Both Favors and Woodress will move on to compete at the Grayson County Spelling Bee on Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. on Grayson College’s Van Alstyne campus. Favors will attend to assist Woodress and stand at the ready in the event Woodress is unable to compete.

Favors said English is his favorite subject and explained he enjoys reading graphic novels in his spare time. Favors was in high spirits after the competition.

“I was super nervous,” Favors said. “I’m disappointed I didn’t get first but at least I got a medal.”

Woodress said he has always been good at spelling and English is his favorite subject. His favorite book series is “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket. Woodress said he is beginning to feel anxious for the county competition.

“I’m excited but a little bit nervous,” Woodress said. “I’m going to study an hour a day for two days a week. I study with my mom and dad. They look at the word list and say words and I can ask them stuff. They tell me if I got it right or wrong.”

Cannon said 23 rounds is one of the longest spelling bees the district has seen in a while.

“That is a really long spelling bee,” Cannon said. “That is a tribute to the preparation of those spellers. I know that’s up there as one of the longest that we’ve had.”

Cannon went on to explain the process that dictates the way the final rounds work in the event of a lengthy competition. She said each speller is given one word per round.

“If all three spellers miss a word in the same round, then by the rules, all three spellers are reinstated and we spell again in the original order,” Cannon said. “We did have a couple of rounds like that. Then one of them dropped out and then we were down to two. It was intense.”

Cannon said the district will have two winners compete at the county level. Students from Scott Middle School competed Tuesday morning to determine a winner and runner up. The winners from Tuesday’s and Thursday’s competitions will then go on to compete in the county spelling bee.

“And if they were to win that one, then they earn the right to compete in the regional bee in Dallas,” Cannon said. “Ultimately, we could have a speller at Washington, D.C.”

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.