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Burkett advances to state

R.L. Austin's Rickey Burkett found himself in competition again.

Except this time, it was on a higher level than a month ago.

Last month, Austin had their annual spelling bee in which Burkett and Hannah Bradford battled word-for-word until Bradford stumbled on a word.

Burkett spelled the next two words correctly to win the Bee and advance to the county spelling Bee.

In the county Bee, Burkett joined a cast of winners from McKenzie, Greenville Middle, Greenville Elementary and W.O. Parmer.

The Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Birmingham Post Herald and the Butler County Board of Education was the next step on the road to Washington and competing on ESPN.

The competition, held at W.O. Parmer, who had their own representative Steiner Hamilton, second grade, competing.

A few feet over, Greenville Elementary's winner Brianna Landers, fourth grade was involved in the competition.

Erin Wood an eigth grader was the representative from Greenville Middle and Brittany Turner a sixth grader, represented McKenzie High School.

The words in this competition were tougher than the first as there was also a $100 prize on the line for the winner.

Burkett proved to be the top speller once again, besting Wood who stumbled on "shackle."

Burkett was the competition by correctly spelling "deadlock" and "semester."

With this victory, Burkett earned the right to compete on the state level. The state championships will be held in March at the Birmingham Museum of Art.

The County competition started with a practice round that consisted of 12 words and then it was go-time.

The group remained intact through the first five rounds.

Landers was the first go as she misspelled the word "prisoner." Burkett cruised through the word "charcoal." Home-field advantage proved not to favor Parmer's Hamilton. The second grader was set down after incorrectly spelling "lute." Hamilton spelled the word correctly, "loot," it was, however, not in the context that the pronouncer was looking for.

The field of five was cut to a field of three as Turner got confused on the ending of "proverb."

After the Turner was dismissed to video camera filled bleachers, the competition came down to the final two.

Wood correctly spelled her first word as did Burkett.

But, she stumbled on "shackle," providing Burkett with the opening to capture the victory.

The sixth grader from Austin in Georgiana correctly spelled the next two words to claim the victory and the $100

prize.