Students spell their way to Hays

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Eighty-five youngsters in third through eighth grades from a 75-county region in Kansas will converge Saturday on Hays for the 2013 Sunflower Spelling Bee.

The bee, free to the public, is set for 9 a.m. at Fort Hays State University's Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center in Sheridan Hall. The winner will advance to the National Spelling Bee in Washington the last week in May.

The Sunflower region includes all of Kansas with the exception of 30 counties in the eastern part of the state.

Students qualified for the Sunflower Bee -- co-sponsored by The Hays Daily News, AT&T and Sunflower Electric -- by virtue of winning their county bee earlier this winter, or some counties are able to send more than one speller depending on how many schools participated at the county level.

This is the first time Hays has hosted the Sunflower Bee, which was in Great Bend the past five years. Before that, Topeka -- for many years -- was the host of the Kansas State Bee before the Topeka Daily Capital-Journal opted for a regional competition only for its 26-county area instead of the statewide bee for winners from all Kansas counties.

The Ellis County representative in Saturday's bee will be Sally Lushbough, an eighth-grader at Hays Middle School, who won the county bee earlier this month.

The top returnee from last year's Sunflower Bee will be Sam Phipps from Johnson County, a seventh-grader at Monticello Trails Middle School in Shawnee who placed third as a sixth-grader last year.

See Friday's Hays Daily News for more coverage of the Sunflower Spelling Bee.