Aine Donohue, a township seventh-grade student, placed third on Tuesday at the Spelldown Regional Spelling Bee at Monmouth University.
After two days of competition between 99 middle-school competitors, Aine found herself among the final four, but misspelled “cryology” in one of the final rounds.
Students from Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties were vying to represent their region in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. in June, during the competition. Ray Wang, an eighth-grade student from William R. Satz Intermediate School in Holmdel, won that opportunity with a perfect performance.
But while the 12-year-old St. Rose Grammar School student won’t be going to the national championship, Aine said she is proud of her performance and thinks she can do better next year.
“By studying the rules more for next year, I could probably do a little better,” said Aine, who lives in town on Pilgrim Street with her family.
After misspelling her word, the next competitor, Scott Levine, a fifth grade student from Wemrock Brook School in Manalapan, missed his word as well, so the two were then pitted in a "spelloff" for third place.
Aine correctly spelled "pecuniary" while Levine misspelled "affidavit."
The competitors were given a booklet in November with over 1,100 words to study, including their definitions and origins, but the words in the final rounds are not on that list, she said.
Aine beat out 25 other St. Rose students to win the opportunity to represent her school at the regional finals, her mother, Monica Donohue, said.
This was Aine’s second year in a row as the St. Rose representative in the spelling bee. Last year, she finished in 10th place.
Donohue said she is both proud and amazed by her daughter’s ability to stay composed during the competition.
“She’s very good at composing herself, I have to say. She was fine the whole time. She definitely knew her words,” Donohue said.
But Aine admitted she does get nervous.
“My heart races even more after I spell the word because I know I made it to the next round,” she said.
Although Aine isn’t going to Washington D.C., she certainly has enough to keep herself busy until next year’s competition.
At school she is on the student council, the softball team, track and cross country teams, and, as if that wasn’t enough, in the summer she is a junior lifeguard in Belmar, she said.
She’s also a straight-A student, according to her mother.
“I’m more organized when I have a lot to do,” Aine said.