A Cape Elizabeth boy won the Maine State Spelling Bee on Saturday following a marathon three-hour contest – the longest in recent memory – that tested the limits of both his memory and his bladder.

Nat Jordan, a seventh-grader at Cape Elizabeth Middle School, was declared victor after spelling words correctly for 50 consecutive rounds, more than half of which he stood on stage with only one other boy, Brandon Aponte, a sixth-grader from Hancock County.

The mano-a-mano match between the two regional spelling champs dragged on so long that the judges were flipping through lists trying to find words that might stump one of them.

In the end, Jeannine Diddle-Uzzi, a classics professor as the University of Maine of Southern Maine,  flipped too far and stumbled upon some relatively easy words.

It was one of those easy words, “deceitful,” that cost Brandon the title. He had previously correctly spelled “hemerocallis,”  “rejoneador” and “mynheer.”

To win, all Nat needed to do was to correctly spell “coincidence” – a slam dunk in the world of competitive spelling – and that is exactly what he did, staying focused even as he badly needed to go to the bathroom.

“What a relief,” he said in an interview after the contest.

Nat, 12, will fly to Washington, D.C., in May to compete for the national title.


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