Knauss won the Saturday event by correctly spelling ‘scenario.’
“I can’t believe that I won,” he said. “Last year I placed third in district. I misspelled ‘pochismo,’ some weird Spanish word from out there. So I was pretty nervous about this year. I started praying every night, because I wanted to make it a first or second at least and I still can’t believe I made it to first.”
Knauss’ win sends him on to the next round in March, where he will face off against the other top spellers in the state. He said his goal is to make it to the national level this year.
“In nationals, it’s like the ultimate spelling bee competition,” he said. “And it’ll definitely look good on my resume if I make it there.”
Knauss said he’ll be cracking the books to get ready and will be well-prepared to take on all comers when he travels to Georgia State University for the competition.
“I know never to doubt myself in the state spelling bee competition,” he said. “My librarian, Mrs. Boyd at West End, she ordered me the current dictionary, so I think I’m pretty well prepared.”
For those who are still struggling to spell big words without the help of spellcheck, Knauss provides this piece of advice: start easy.
“Start off with basic roots and bases,” he said. “So they can learn those and know how to spell parts of the word. And then they should start advancing to higher-level words.”
Finishing behind Knauss this year was Gilmer County spelling bee champion Tyler Queen, whose final word of the 30-round competition was ‘kahuna.’
Queen will be joining Knauss, as an alternate, at the state spelling bee championship set for GSU’s student union on March 15.