14 March 2006

Librarians rule - in Kentucky spelling bee

Saturday the weather here in Western PA was warm, and the track beckoned. Apparently, we were not the only ones hankering for a night at the track: we tried to make reservations at the Clubhouse Terrace, but it was booked solid. We were shocked.

Attendance at Mountaineer came in at 12,865, nearly double the number of souls soaking up the sunshine at Gulfstream. In West Virginia, it was damp, and at times so misty that the backstretch was totally obscured. But we could stand at the rail without our teeth chattering, a vast improvement over our recent visits. The evening was something less than profitable as we didn't cash our first ticket until the 8th race, when Chelsea's Grey Boy "surged gamely" as the chart says, to beat Bernie Flint's First Money for second. (Just an aside, but Chelsea's Grey Boy is a speckled grey/roan with a white face that's downright otherworldly coming out of the dark mist at the final turn. Simply a great horse to watch at night races.)

I'm blaming our poor wagers on the weather; I had handicapped expecting the track to be wet, and despite the fact that it was rated fast, I couldn't completely abandon my oh, so perfect, picks. Sigh.

So I was delighted to find a message about the Corporate Spelling Bee for Literacy In Northern Kentucky in my mailbox. It's an event featuring teams of adult spellers -- and a good-natured rivalry between nuns and librarians. The Sisters of St. Walburg Monastery team won three years in a row before they took a break from the competition; the Boone County Library team picked up wins in all three of its appearances. But this year, the nuns returned to the contest, and a media blitz ensued. There's something about undefeated teams facing off that captures the media's interest: the AP picked up the story, and the Todayshow interviewed the two teams. My favorite quote:

"Librarians give us a scare," said Sister Mary Carol Hellmann, one of three spellers on St. Walburg's team.(Kentucky Post)
As expected, both teams made it to the final round. The nuns missed "chimopelagic," and the librarians went on to win with "trinitrotoluene". The dramatic finish is covered at The Cincinnati Post. And yes, there is a slim connection to racing: in 2004, Turfway Park sponsored the librarians.

Oh, by the way, when was the last time the AP (or the Today show, for that matter) covered a horse racing story?


John said...

Had I known about this competition, I would have tired to place a wager.

6-5 on the nuns seemed fair to me. Keying the librarians in some sort of exotic wager would have been a good idea.

Tote Board Brad said...

Heh, great post. Love the idea of a hard fought battle between librarians and the Sista's.

Spelling bees and horse racing are about on par for mainstream media coverage, methinks, and this story is probably better than most of the horse racing coverage I read today.

suebroux said...

Those crazy nuns! How could they possibly miss "chimopelagic"? Tssk. That's two "Hail Marys" and three whacks with a ruler across the knuckles.

QQ said...

Glad you all enjoyed the story. And John, really, I don't think I've ever seen the words "exotic" and "librarians" in the same sentence before!