After nine intense rounds, only two remained Saturday in a battle to win this year’s The Bee, a regional spelling competition organized by The Missourian.

McKenzie White, a seventh-grader at Meramec Valley Middle School, eventually won, but it would take him 14 more rounds to do so.

White, 13, outlasted a field of 39 regional grade school spelling bee champions from Franklin and Warren counties in the annual competition, held at East Central College.

White correctly spelled “capitulate” and “fiendish” to win the competition. He is the son of Daniel and Dorothy White of Pacific.

Garrick Ogle, a fifth-grader at Marthasville Elementary School, was the first runner-up in the event. Ogle, 11, is the son of Kathy and Gary Ogle of Marthasville.

In addition to White and Ogle, the other top finalists earning medals were Emmi Windes, Crosspoint Christian School; Louis Rossi, Immaculate Conception School; Cordell Walker, Gerald Elementary School; Emma Wunderlich, Our Lady of Lourdes School; and Emily Braun, Clark-Vitt Elementary School.

Approximately 300 people attended the event which was held at the John E. Anglin Performing Arts Center.

Students in grades four through eight who won their schools’ spelling bees were eligible to compete.

Dawn Kitchell, educational services director for The Missourian, said she was pleased with how the competition went Saturday.

“We had seven finalists and you could tell that all, especially the final three, had spent a lot of time preparing,” said Kitchell. “Garrick said he practiced every day and McKenzie really credited his mother with helping him study. She said she was proud with how hard he had worked.”

Students were provided a 2,500-word list in a study guide to prepare for The Bee.

Kitchell said she could hear the audience gasp at so many of the words that were spelled by the students.

“It was an incredible caliber of spelling this year,” she said.

Kitchell also said she was “thrilled” to have the schools of the Warren County Record, a sister publication of The Missourian, take part this year.

“We had three from that area participate and hopefully, all will participate next year,” she said.

Students from 40 schools were supposed to compete — but one student did not show up.

Kitchell thanked her steering committee of local educators who helped plan The Bee, as well as the judges and Sue Henderson, ECC faculty member, who served as the pronouncer.

White won a $200 U.S. savings bond and trophy, and Ogle went home with a trophy as well. The top seven finalists all received medals. All of the participants received The Bee T-shirts.

This year The Bee was sponsored by MSTA, East Central College, Missouri Baptist University and Kohl’s.