Dakota Jones, 14, an eighth-grader at Hyde Park Middle School, won the Nevada State Spelling Bee on Saturday for the second year in a row with the spelling of "hubristic."
Jones also came in second in the competition three years ago as a sixth grader, but he said he never felt insolent or arrogant as a result of excessive pride or passion -- "hubristic" -- about his chances of winning.
"There's no way of knowing what word you will get. It's very uncertain," he said.
Thirty-three students began the statewide bee, sponsored by the Las Vegas Review-Journal at Faith Lutheran Junior/Senior High School. It was competitive until the eighth round when seven spellers were still in contention.
Kendall Tenney, the official pronouncer, then stumped the middle schoolers with words seemingly scooped out of an alphabet soup.
Fidgety contestants tapped their feet and knocked knees as they listened to competitors try to spell words like "Daliesque," "plumicorn" and "boniato."
Daliesque is an adjective for the painting style of Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali. Malcolm Seamans, a 13-year-old speller from Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School in Gardnerville, Douglas County, incorrectly inserted an "h."
Plumicorn is a kind of owl feather. Samantha Colwell, 11, a sixth grader at the Adelson Educational Campus in Las Vegas, substituted an "a" for the "i."
Boniato is a sweet potato with a white, dry flesh. The word is thought to be derived from the Taino, the pre-Columbus inhabitants of the Bahamas. Lisa Borzage, 13, an eighth-grader at the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School in Las Vegas, gave it an extra "n."
Only Jones made it out of the eighth round with his spelling of "caisson," a two-wheeled vehicle often used to tow coffins to military funerals.
Jones said caisson was much tougher to spell than hubristic, which he spelled in the ninth -- and championship -- round to seal his victory.
He credited his win to hard work. " Every day on the bus I take some lists of words to study," Jones said. "Sometimes I just take the words right out of the dictionary. I try to look for new words whenever I get a chance."
His parents, Michael and Jamie Jones, also quiz him with lists of words . Dad is an optometrist. Dakota is thinking of becoming a doctor, too.
Now the family is focused on preparing for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., beginning May 29. Last year, Dakota lost in the semifinals with an incorrect spelling of "tiralee," meaning a succession of musical notes as in a bugle call.
Michael Jones said he feels excited by the opportunity to return, but the family has become accustomed to following their son around the country to academic competitions.
Last year, the Joneses also went to Orlando, Fla., for the national Math Counts competition.
Contact reporter James Haug at jhaug@reviewjournal .com or 702-374-7917.