The Mentor School District's top middle school spellers competed Wednesday to find its sixth, seventh and eighth grade champions.
It took 38 words, 15 rounds and two near eliminations before Devon Messner won the seventh grade spelling bee Wednesday at Memorial Middle School.
He and runners-up Noah Rolfes and Diana Brnjic stormed through head-scratchers like depilatory, miasma, polymathic and incandescence.
After Diana was eliminated by "paucity," Devon almost won when Noah misspelled "diaphonous." However, Devon cost himself a quicker win by also missing "malachite."
Four rounds later, Devon was nearly eliminated after he misspelled "gelato," but he received a second chance when Noah missed "jitney."
Finally, after 15 rounds of spelling savvy, Devon earned the win by spelling "vibrant."
After the round, Assistant Superintendent William Porter, who served as moderator, said, "It doesn't get better than that on ESPN."
Devon was joined in the winners' circle by sixth grader Nicole Jares (who won with "authoritative") and eight grade Eamon Bracken (who spelled "unforeseeable" for the victory.)
All three grade-level champions are from Shore Middle School.
The sixth grade runners-up were Nicole Predina and Anthony Noah Began; in eight grade, Christopher Nguyen and Kesha Dalal.
They will compete against the fourth- and fifth-grade champions on January 29 to find the districtwide champion. The winner will then face spellers from other schools to become the Lake County champion.
Last year, Mentor's spelling champion -- Vishnu Nistala -- made it all the way to the fifth round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.