DeKALB – In a harbinger of things to come, Matthew Rogers sat silently with his parents awaiting the continuation of the DeKalb County Spelling Bee, while his opponent, Keith Mokry, milled about the auditorium joking with friends and supporters.
The two-man spell-off March 8 was more a test of nerves than anything else. The duel was the conclusion of the epic 74-round competition that ended in a stalemate Feb. 22, when Mokry and Rogers went head-to-head for 66 rounds without either speller missing a word.
This time it was over before the spectators in the packed house had settled into their seats at the DeKalb County Regional Office of Education building.
After beginning with simple words like “platform” and “oodles,” Rogers, of Sycamore, misspelled “corrode” in round 5. Mokry, of Somonauk, was then given the word “spacious” for the win, which he handled effortlessly.
Even though the words ended up being easier than many of those used two weeks ago, both contestants said that they were less confident coming into Saturday’s contest.
“I just chose random words to study … I didn’t know what to expect because they didn’t give out a list this time, so I was nervous,” said Rogers.
He took the defeat in stride while also crediting his opponent. Rogers won last year’s DeKalb County Spelling Bee and tied for 42nd place at the national spelling bee.
Mokry said the last couple of weeks have been crazy, but he focused on his goal.
“I’ve had two giant books of etymologies, pronunciations and word stems and I’ve just been studying my tail off,” Mokry said. “I’ve been working for the past four years to try to get to this point, … so [I feel] just great.”
Mokry’s parents plan to accompany their son to Washington, D.C., to watch him compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 25 to 31.
“We are very grateful and appreciative that the Daily Chronicle and Shaw Media have continued to sponsor this event so that we can send the champion to the national spelling bee,” said Amanda Christensen, DeKalb County Regional Superintendent.
“I sometimes talk to other regional offices and they can’t hold this event because they can’t afford it.”