Molly Youngs of Sidney proved she was a “maestro” of spelling, but first she had to figure out “cilantro.”

Youngs, an eighth-grader at Sidney Central School, won The Daily Star 2013 Regional Spelling Bee in Goodrich Theatre at the State University College at Oneonta on Saturday by beating Taegan Mackey of Oneonta in the ninth round, the third round of head-to-head spelling between the two girls. There were 22 contestants overall.

Taegan misspelled “ampere,” a unit of measurement. Youngs had already spelled “maestro.” In the championship round, she spelled “cilantro” despite not knowing the word.

“I told her it would take a little bit of luck,” her mother, Sheri Youngs, said. “As it turned out, she got a little bit lucky with a word she didn’t know.”

However, it wasn’t just luck that will send Molly and one of her parents to Washington, D.C., for six days in May and the Scripps National Spelling Bee on May 28 through May 30.

“She really worked hard,” Youngs said. “She practiced at home, in the car, in the diner on the way here, at the grocery store, everywhere.”

Molly said she had no words when asked what winning meant to her. When asked how she felt, she said, “I kind of feel like I am going to start to cry.”

Later she acknowledged all the hard work she put into training for the event.

“I practiced with my mom a lot,” she told master of ceremonies Mitchell D. Lynch, publisher of The Daily Star, which co-sponsored the event.

“And your dad, too, right?” Lynch joked.

“Yes, and my dad, too,” Molly said, “and I am so glad that I get to go back to Washington, D.C.”

It will be a homecoming for the Molly. Molly’s parents, Josh and Sheri Youngs, lived in the Maryland suburbs in the 1990s, and they still visit the area. Josh Youngs is from Bainbridge and Sheri Youngs, who went to Catholic University in Washington, D.C., is from Sidney.

In the earlier rounds, Youngs spelled “deluxe,” “typhoon,” “spherical,” ingenious,” “percolate,” “mercurial,” “enthusiasm” and “cafeteria.”

There were six contestants left after the fourth round. Three more contestants were eliminated in the fifth round.

Abbi Miller of Bainbridge-Guilford also made the sixth round. She finished third after misspelling “asterisk.” Molly and Taegan spelled “mercurial” and “persimmon” respectively that round.

The regional spelling bee is sponsored by The Daily Star together with Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the Otsego Northern Catskills BOCES and SUNY Oneonta.

The trip to Washington is being paid for by sponsors The Daily Star, SUNY Oneonta, SUNY Oneonta Science Discovery Center, ACCO Brands, Chobani, Amphenol and Casella Waste Systems.

Judges for the event were Julia P. Suarez Hayes, assistant professor of English at Hartwick College; Dr. Paul French, associate professor of physics and astronomy at SUNY Oneonta; and Jo Boring, director of the Catskill Area School Study Council. 

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