It took 22 rounds and 247 words, but a Safety Harbor Middle School eighth-grader emerged as winner of the Pinellas County Spelling Bee on Saturday.
Eric Lee correctly spelled "blasphemously," which was missed by another contestant, and then spelled "obsecration" to win the competition at Seminole Middle School. Linda Nguyen, a Largo Middle School eighth-grader, finished second; and Lily Lam, an eighth-grader at Osceola Middle School, was third.
Each of the 75 contestants from Pinellas public and private schools received a certificate of participation from the St. Petersburg Times and Delta Zeta Sorority alumni, which co-sponsor the bee. The top three finishers also received dictionaries. Eric received a plaque from Delta Zeta that will remain at his school for one year.
He also will receive a plaque from the Times at the Suncoast Spelling Bee at 11 a.m. March 23 at the Times auditorium in St. Petersburg, 490 First Ave. S. The top three spellers in the Pinellas competition will join the top three from Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties at the Suncoast bee. That event is free and open to the public.
The winner will go to the National Spelling Bee to represent the Suncoast during the last week of May.