FAIRMONT — Sometimes a single “T” can make the difference between a win and a loss.

Saturday, Fairmont State University hosted the North Central West Virginia Regional Spelling Bee, where students from nine counties gathered to flex their spelling prowess.

At the end of the hour-and-a-half-long competition, Harrison County 7th Grader Isaac Boyce clinched the victory by correctly spelling cupola, a relatively small, dome-like structure on top of a building.

The bee went 14 rounds with Boyce battling out against runner up Gilmer County 7th Grader Adlai Chapman and second runner up Marion County 8th Grader Emma Casto.

The evening started off with a quiet first round. The 21 contestants breezed through words such as frock, mutter and goober and there were no eliminations in the first round.

Things picked up in round two with back-to-back eliminations on the words divine and eighth and a final knockout on fantastically to close out the round.

The ranks thinned as the rounds progressed. Tricky spells such as mischief, dialect and respite knocked out more students in rounds two and three and by round five there were only nine contestants left and the difficulty ramped up.

The competition at this point was tight. The previous round saw six knockouts but round five only had one, with an Upshur County student missing the second “A” in Hawaiian.

Rounds six through 12 had only one knockout per round or none at all. Words such as locavore, manacle, churchianity, carpal and gazette all moved the competition closer to the final round.

By round 12, it was down to the final three contestants, Boyce, Chapman and Casto. The three made easy work of globular, splenetic and syndicate to move into round 13, where Casto missed an “S” in the word cassandra, meaning a prophetess or fortune teller. With Casto eliminated, Chapman and Boyce went head-to-head.

Calabash — an evergreen tropical American tree —was the first word of round 14 and Boyce made quick work of it after asking for the language of origin. Champan was given the word frittata and misplaced the doubled “T” at the end of the word giving Boyce the opportunity to win the trophy.

The final word was cupola and with a correct spelling, Boyce was awarded the trophy and a trip to the national Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Throughout the competition, Boyce never flinched. He credits the hard work and his father Daniel Boyce put in to get him competition-ready.

“I feel really good about winning but my dad helped me study a lot,” Isaac said. “We used a few different techniques and studied a few books with all the words from the regional bee in them and anytime I’d miss one we’d go back and look at the definition and language of origin and that helped a lot.”

Daniel Boyce knew his son had the stuff to take home the win. Last year, his son placed runner-up at the regional bee and just needed some extra push to make it to the next level.

“I’m so proud of him because he really put a lot of work into this, probably an hour most days of the week,” Daniel Boyce said. “There were a few words where the reader had a different pronunciation than we practiced, but Isaac knew to take a breath and ask the questions and he made it through.”

Reach David Kirk at

304-367-2522 or by email

at dkirk@timeswv.com.

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