Christopher won on the word "basilica" after spelling "litterateur," the word his remaining opponent had just missed. Christopher's parents and his teacher at Trinity Lutheran School in Freistatt, Gary Holder, were in the audience.
This was Christopher's second trip to the Globe's Spelling Bee. When the announcement was made that Christopher was this year's winner, he thought, "I recalled the boy who won last year [Sanjay Jenkins, of Joplin] and how I admired him. I wanted to be as good as him. When I heard I had won, I felt like I had accomplished something, that I was good like him."
The Globe's Spelling Bee drew in finalists from 92 schools in Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas, including home schools. The only time a student from the Monett area took the title was in 1998 when Tosha Terveen, of Purdy, won.
Christopher's father estimated his son had been studying the three lists of words released to contestants for up to four hours a day every day since January. Christopher knew his lists well enough to know when the judges shifted from one sheet to the next.
As the contest progressed yesterday, 21 were eliminated in the first round. About three quarters of those remaining went out in the second round, and the third round reduced the field by a similar percentage.
"I felt more confident [as the field shrunk]," Christopher said. "When it went faster, there were fewer words left to spell. I had a smaller chance to get the words that are more difficult."
As words were called out, Christopher said "I would picture the word in my head, spell it out quietly. When [the proper spelling] was announced, I would see that I knew the material and whatever words came up. It gave me more confidence.
"To win the spelling bee was something I didn't think I would be able to do," Christopher said. " It made me feel like I was more than just a smart kid in my class, that I was pretty good in southwest Missouri."
Christopher recalled with relief that he survived the early rounds. "I was afraid to go out too early. Then I'd think if I had done just a little better, I would have done it."
In winning, Christopher concluded, "I am much better than I thought I was."
Because The Globe's contest covers a multi-state region, there are no comparable territories from which a competitor advances for further rounds. Christopher planned to take his trophy home and place it on the piano with others he has won for participation in sports and Scouts. The participation trophy he received from last year's spelling bee is sitting there as well.