Shortly before the start of Friday's Crawford County Spelling Bee, one of the contestants asked how many rounds the contest typically lasts.

Shortly before the start of Friday's Crawford County Spelling Bee, one of the contestants asked how many rounds the contest typically lasts.
Ruth Miller, Westside Elementary School principal and a spelling bee judge, said the number of rounds varies year to year.
"We've had times when it took 22 rounds," she said. "There were others that lasted 15 rounds."
If those numbers represent a marathon, this year's spelling bee was more like a 100-meter dash.
Only six rounds were needed before Pittsburg Community Middle School student Joseph Mathew was crowned champion of this year's competition. Mathew, a sixth-grader at PCMS, outlasted 36 other local students and sealed his win by correctly spelling "poignant" in the sixth and final round. With the victory, Mathew advances to the Great Bend Tribune's Sunflower Bee in Great Bend.
Brittny Neil, an eighth-grader at Northeast Junior High, finished second and also will compete in Great Bend. Haderlein Elementary fifth-grader Victoria Stansberry finished third on Friday. The CCSB took place inside the auditorium at Pittsburg High School.
Mathew, who spent two hours per night for two weeks preparing for Friday's contest, said he was a bit nervous before the bee began.
"But as it went on, it got a little easier," he said. "I'm excited and just really glad I made it."
His father, Boban Mathew, said he was proud of his son's achievement.
"He did very good," he said. "We are very excited for him. He seemed very excited, too, but also a bit nervous. We're happy that he won."
Of the 37 participants, only seven remained after the first two rounds. Three were eliminated in the third, and another in the fourth, leaving the final three to battle in the fifth.
In the fifth round, Mathew correctly spelled "opossum," while Neil misspelled "minaret" and Stansberry misspelled "cilantro." To earn the win, Mathew had to spell one final word. Had he misspelled "poignant" in the sixth round, the final three would have competed anew.
Linda Campbell-Laman, Lakeside Elementary School principal and the Crawford County Spelling Bee coordinator, said she was surprised the bee concluded so quickly.
"It certainly went faster than I had anticipated," she said.
And while it's unknown if or how it affected student performance, Campbell-Laman said there was some confusion on which words the students were to study leading up to the competition.
In years past, she said, the students who qualified for the county bee were given a word list for which to study before the countywide competition. That list represented the words that would be used during the bee.
This year, however, was a bit different. The Great Bend Tribune released a booklet of suggested words for students to study. Each school who conducted a qualifying building spelling bee was sent 25 copies of that booklet. However, some of the students who qualified for the county bee never saw that booklet and instead studied a different word list in advance of Friday's competition.
"Some of the building coordinators distributed the booklets to students as they signed up for the building's spelling bee," Campbell-Laman said. "Then they might not have access to them for the students who won at that building."
At one point during the county bee, a participant, after being asked to spell a certain word, told the judges that none of the words he and his fellow participants were being asked to spell were on the list he studied. Mathew said he also studied "the wrong list."
Campbell-Laman said after the bee that Scripps, the national spelling bee organization, has been "getting away" from providing word lists for students as a way of avoiding spelling achievement by only memorization.
"They really want to get away from the concept of just a list and memorization," she said. She added that it was the building coordinators' responsibility to provide the correct booklet to the students.
Despite the confusion about which words for which to prepare, Mathew said he thinks all of the students had a fair chance.
"It didn't throw me too much," he said. "I don't know if it bothered too many of us up here."
With the county win under his belt, Mathew said he's gearing up for Great Bend.
"I'm going to be nervous," he said. "But I'm going to keep studying and do my best and see how it goes."