HARLEYVILLE — When Gabriele Montuori read in Friday’s newspaper that Berkeley County School District spelling bee champion Hayley Durant studied for five hours the day before her competition, he took it as a challenge.
“I have studied five hours a day for the last week or so,” said Gabriele, a Harleyville Elementary School fifth-grader, who spelled “crescent” correctly Wednesday to claim the Dorchester District 4 title. “Before that I was only studying two hours a day.”
It paid off. Gabriele, 10 and a triplet, said none of the words given to him at the competition rattled him much. Words of Dutch origin often throw him off, he said, and his favorite words are Italian.
“I’m just very proud of him and I’m looking forward to the next phase,” said his mother, Brenda Montuori. “He’ll have to study harder.”
The runner-up was Orlando Cadena of Clay Hill Elementary School, who was disqualified after misspelling “gorgeous.”
Gabriele and Orlando will advance to Spellbound!, the Lowcountry’s regional spelling bee, which is sponsored by The Post and Courier.
The competition will be at 7 p.m. March 6 at Charleston Southern University and will include 50 finalists.
The winner of Spellbound! will get an all-expenses-paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, May 26 through June 1 in Washington, D.C.