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2 advance to regional senior spelling bee

Published: Friday, May 9, 2014 11:39 p.m. CDT • Updated: Saturday, May 10, 2014 12:09 a.m. CDT
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(Sandy Bressner –
John Wohlert spells his final word to win the Senior Spelling Bee on Friday, hosted by the St. Charles Public Library and the St. Charles Park District at the Pottawatomie Community Center in St. Charles. Wohlert will advance to the July 29 Regional Bee competition in Lincolnshire.

ST. CHARLES – The eight contestants of a local senior spelling bee Friday expected their competition to last a couple hours.

But John Wohlert of St. Charles became the last man standing in about 40 minutes.

“I’m super thrilled,” Wohlert, 67, said after the spelling bee ended.

Wohlert won by spelling the word “programmatic” correctly after 22 spelling rounds, beating out Brian Sullivan, 51, of St. Charles. Wohlert and Sullivan joined six other 50-and-older adults at the Pottawatomie Community Center at 8 North Ave. in a local qualifying contest for the Illinois State Senior Spelling Bee.

This is the first year the St. Charles Park District and the St. Charles Public Library have worked together to offer the senior spelling bee, said Meghan Papke, adult activities supervisor at the park district. The bee is geared toward continual learning and keeping seniors’ brains active.

The competitors definitely stayed busy to prepare for the competition. Wohlert used the “My Word Coach” software on the Nintendo Wii video game system daily for the past two weeks to prepare. Sullivan used spelling websites and had his wife Linda read words to him for practice.

Wohlert and Sullivan both said they had to fight nerves when the spelling bee began.

“It is luck of the draw,” Sullivan said. “You could study until you’re blue in the face and still miss a word.”

As the top two finishers, Wohlert and Sullivan will represent St. Charles in the regional senior spelling bee set for July 29 in Lincolnshire.

Sullivan said it feels good to advance, but he would have been happy no matter how far he went in the spelling bee. He called the competition a unique opportunity.

“We’re just here to have some fun and see how we do,” he said.

Spelling Bee Results

The following is a list of the 2014 St. Charles Senior Spelling Bee finalists in the order that they finished:

1st: John Wohlert

2nd: Brian Sullivan

3rd: Dana Teichart

4th: Jan Bach

5th: Alison Ward

6th: Katie Richardson

7th: Rayonia Babel

8th: Judy Thor

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