GHS Spell Bowl team takes fourth in the state
WEST LAFAYETTE -- Despite having three spellers post perfect scores and another miss only one word, the Greencastle High School Spell Bowl team came up three points short of a possible second straight state championship in competition Saturday at Purdue University.
Jaelen Hounsell, Ben Wilkerson and Bailey Williams all had perfect scores while Simon Foss only missed one word as GHS put up 66 points to finish fourth overall in the Class 3 competition.
First-place Andrean High School of Merrillville captured the Class 3 state championship with 69 points (out of 90 possible), followed by North Posey and Heritage Hills, both with 67, in second and third, respectively.
In her last run as GHS Spell Bowl coach, Greencastle’s Nicole Burkhalter called it “a rough loss,” but stressed that “the kids worked hard.”
“The main payoff isn’t a state championship,” she theorized, “it’s an improved vocabulary. Spell Bowl is definitely an extracurricular activity that translates into a life skill.”
Members of the fourth-place GHS Spell Bowl team, in addition to Hounsell, Wilkerson, Williams and Foss, are Addison Hughes, Vivian Savage, Michael Thede, Susanna Howard, John Brook, Luke Varvel and Josh Nally.
Noting that all Spell Bowl duties for the year were now complete, Burkhalter said she was “sad to say” that she had turned in her resignation to GHS Principal Russ Hesler Monday.
“I feel fortunate to have coached successful teams for several years,” she said, “but the time commitment to stay competitive at the state level is becoming more difficult” as her son becomes more involved in extracurricular activities at the high school level.
“I had to choose between remaining Spell Bowl coach or English Team/Interdisciplinary coach due to the time commitment,” Burkhalter said. “I feel like I learn more each year from coaching English team, so I need to let go of Spell Bowl. My experiences have been invaluable, and I leave with many pleasant memories.”
Among those memories are the 2016 Class 3 state championship along with a series of Spell Bowl near-misses that included two second-place finishes and at least two third places over the years.
Her English team in the Indiana Academic Super Bowl, incidentally, is on a streak of five straight state championships.