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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Michael Richard, who was an eighth-grader at Bellows Falls Middle School at the time, won the 1986 West Central New England Spelling Bee.

“I never thought I would win,” he said as his mom, younger brother, and two of his teachers gave him celebratory hugs.

His father was unable to attend the event.

Richard was perfect through 15 rounds of competition. Some of the words he spelled correctly were “reconnaissance” and “invariant.”

Kathy Plumpton, a Brattleboro Junior High School student, ended up fifth. She had previously won the Brattleboro Reformer spelling bee.

Also competing in the New England showdown were: East Dummerston’s Dodi Emery and Christian Heritage School student Shaun Willette.