GHS headed to state finals to defend Spell Bowl title

Monday, November 6, 2017

One year after earning its first-ever Indiana Academic Spell Bowl state championship, Greencastle High School is heading back to the state finals with a chance to repeat.

Members of the state finals-bound 2017 Greencastle High School Spell Bowl team are (front, from left) Susanna Howard, Bailey Williams and Luke Varvel; (back, from left) Jaelen Hounsell, Ben Wilkerson, Josh Nally, Michael Thede, Addison Hughes, Vivian Savage and coach Nicole Burkhalter. Not pictured are Simon Foss and John Brook. After winning the recent area competition at Danville, GHS qualified fifth among the nine state finalists for the Nov. 11 competition.

Greencastle posted the highest score in all divisions at the recent Danville area competition and is poised to see if that spells success at the state level.

The GHS spellers are ranked fifth in Class 3 heading into the state finals Saturday, Nov. 11 at Purdue University.

"We won, but our score was much lower than previous years, so we have work to do if we want to defend last year's championship," Spell Bowl coach Nicole Burkhalter said.

Jaelen Hounsell produced the best round for GHS in area play, spelling eight of nine words correctly.

Heritage Hills of Lincoln City is top-seeded in Class 3 going into the finals with 63 points, followed by Andrean High School at Merrillville with 61.

Third, fourth, fifth and sixth places are tightly bunched with North Posey of Poseyville third with 58 points and North Newton at Morocco fourth, just ahead of Greencastle, with 56. After GHS with 54 in fifth comes Forest Park High School at Ferdinand with 53 points in sixth.

Things begin to drop off from there with River Forest at Hobart seventh with 47 points, Bremen High School eighth with 46 and North Judson-St. Pierre ninth at 38.

Among other local schools, Cascade tied for 11th and just missed a state finals berth with 36 points.

Cloverdale posted a score of 26 to finish 21st overall, while North Putnam's 18 points earned it a tie for 37th in Class 3.

The Spell Bowl competition consists of 10 rounds in which different team members come forward one at time to tackle nine words apiece.

With a legacy of academic state titles to its credit -- 26 titles overall and a streak of five straight by its English team -- GHS finally captured the 2016 Class 3 Spell Bowl title after enduring a series of frustrating near-misses that included two second-place finishes and at least two third places over the years.

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