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First Repeat Winner for AARP National Spelling Bee


Monday, August 13, 2012   

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The word "rhyzoctonia" describes a type of imperfect fungi - and it's one that a retired attorney from Virginia is likely always to remember.

Michael Petrina, Jr., of Arlington, Va., spelled that word correctly and took home the top prize in the AARP National Spelling Bee in Cheyenne over the weekend.

Petrina also won the bee in 2009. In fact, the top three this year were winners from previous years.

Petrina's study method? Going through the dictionary page by page.

"I copied down all of the words that I thought I needed to know on index cards. Basically reviewing those index cards, with some supplemental lists."

The annual bee also included workshops on brain health and aging, and dozens of volunteers worked behind the scenes. Renee Gamino, AARP Wyoming's assistant director of community outreach, hails their work.

"The most wonderful thing about the spelling bee event is all the people. The volunteers that come in and help us out and get this set up, and all of the contestants. It's just all in fun - and that's the key thing - everyone has a good time."

More than 50 people from around the nation competed in the bee this year, and registration already is open for next year's bee at

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