Duos’ perfect scores in practice meets might predict state gold
Seven seconds per word, 100 words per test, 1500 words total. What would seem challenging to even the most diligent of students is the daily routine of the Salado High School state-bound spelling team.
Vocabulary words such as immunodeficiency, syzygy, and zabaglione are included on the list that competitors are given at the beginning of the year in order to successfully compete at the district, regional, and state levels.
Coached by Kyra Mann, the spelling team consists of Kayla Manning, Katie Kendall, and Luke Miller.
“The spellers have to be self-motivated in order to be successful,” Mann said. “There is a lot of memorization, which means a lot of independent study techniques that the students use which are unique for them personally.”
The team’s daily dedication is shown through their individual preparation for competition.
“At school, I write the words repeatedly in a spiral notebook of mine,” Kendall said. “And when I go home, I use a computer program designed for pronouncing and defining the words off the list.”
The test consists of three different parts: editing, vocabulary, and spelling. Overall, the test lasts for one hour.
“The editing part is usually the most difficult for me,” Miller said. “But with Ms. Mann’s training, it’s become easier for us.”
Manning and Kendall have placed 1st and 2nd respectively at every meet thus far. Although registering a perfect score is almost unheard of, the two have accomplished the feat multiple times.
“I have gotten a perfect score twice out of the times we’ve competed,” Manning said. “Without the help and support of my team and coach, I wouldn’t have been able to achieve this.”
The spellers have dominated the competition, defeating Giddings and Bastrop, the top two teams in the 4A division, at previous tournaments.
“I have high expectations for this team,” Mann said. “At such a young age they show so much potential and I feel that they could go all the way and bring home the gold.”
The UIL state academic meet is May 26 at the University of Texas in Austin.