LINCOLN - After every word Kristin Baker spelled correctly, she looked at her parents and smiled.
When she noticed she was among the last three spellers standing on Wednesday at her countywide spelling bee, the smile grew even larger.
The Lawndale girl came in second place in the Logan County version of The Pantagraph Spelling Bee sponsored by Busey Bank.
"It feels good," said Baker, an eighth-grader at Chester-East Lincoln Elementary School. Baker said she studied words before her school bee, but did little to prepare for the countywide bee.
Hannah Sheley of Lincoln came in first place, and Kathryn Opperman of Lincoln took third.
The top three spellers from Logan County will move on to the March 11 Grand Final Bee, where they will face the top spellers from DeWitt, Livingston and McLean counties. The first-place finisher there will move on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
County bees will continue today in McLean and DeWitt counties. Livingston County spellers will go head-to-head on Friday.
Top spellers in fourth through eighth grade from 13 schools in Logan County came to the bee.
In the eight rounds of competition on Wednesday, 55 words were used.
Sheley's first-place finish is the second win for the eighth-grader at Carroll Catholic School. She also spelled her way into Logan County's top spot last year.
She won this year after correctly spelling the word "philharmonic."
Sheley attributes her spelling abilities to reading a lot of books and magazines. She has been studying the spelling bee's word list for the last week.
Opperman, an eighth-grader at Lincoln Zion Lutheran School, said it was her first countywide bee. She has been in other spelling bees since the fifth grade, however.
The top three spellers each received a dictionary.