Williams wins third trip to National Spelling Bee by spelling ‘abience’

For Clay Today
Posted 3/31/21

CLAY COUNTY – Erik Williams is going back to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Again.

The eighth grader at St. Johns Country Day School won the First Coast Spelling Bee Monday for the third …

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Williams wins third trip to National Spelling Bee by spelling ‘abience’

Posted

CLAY COUNTY – Erik Williams is going back to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Again.

The eighth grader at St. Johns Country Day School won the First Coast Spelling Bee Monday for the third consecutive year by correctly spelling the word “abience.”

This year’s competition was held virtually. Williams defeated 13 other North Florida spellers. It took 39 rounds and more than three hours, but Williams finally prevailed after Manischa Wijayawardhana of Switzerland Point Middle School in St. Johnson County misspelled “laqueus,” which means band of nerve fibers in the brain.

Williams correctly spelled his Round 38 word, “vervet,” which is a monkey native to Africa, then he won the competition by spelling “abience,” which means the withdraw from a stimulus object or situation.

Wijayawardhana and Williams were given words from the 2021 Words of Champions workbook provided by the Spelling Bee during the first 37 rounds. Organizers then switched to words from the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary that weren’t on the prepared list.

Williams said “abience” was new to him.

“I have not heard that word before,” he said during his televised Zoom call on WJXT. “I used the definition and the useful information provided to figure it out.”

Williams won a spot in the National Spelling Bee a year ago, but the competition was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s finals will be held on July 8 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports at Walt Disney World.

“Last year, obviously, it got canceled. I’m really looking forward to being able to go there and, hopefully, represent everybody really well,” he said.

Much like he did in his two previous First Coast wins, Williams remained stoic throughout the competition. Even when he was declared the winner, he barely smiled.

“It feels great. I worked really hard and I just love everybody that helped get me through this. My family helped me a lot to prepare,” Williams said.

“I practice a lot. I think I’m able to stay calm pretty well. It’s really important to not panic too much.”

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