CATEGORY: Lafayette County

AUTHOR: GINN

HED:Lafayette Elementary School girl places third in national Oreo stack off

By Jennifer Ginn

Daily Journal

OXFORD - Surrounded by Oreo cookies, Casey Estoch sits on her living room floor with smudges of chocolate lining her mouth.

She tosses one of the black-and-white confections to a friend, who uses it to lure Casey's dog, Cookie, away from wobbling towers of Oreos stacked on the coffee table.

She has a good eye, a steady hand and the infectious giggle of a 10-year-old girl. She also just happens to have placed third in a national Oreo stacking contest.

Casey is one tough cookie.

National champion

Casey, a fourth-grader at Lafayette Elementary, recently competed with 10 other kids from across the country in the Only Oreo National Stacking Championships in Florida.

She had 30 seconds to stack as many Oreos as she could. With 21 of the cookies stacked on top of each other in a tower, she ranked third in the 8- to 12-year-old category. Daniel Valente of New Jersey won the event with 29 cookies.

Oreo stacking? Yes, it really is a contest sponsored by Nabisco, the cookie's maker.

Casey got involved when she and her mother were at the Oxford Wal-Mart in April. More than 15,000 stores hosted local competitions, taking the high scorers to compete nationally.

The contest was a much-needed diversion after the death of Casey's father, Victor, in a car crash earlier that month.

"Back in April, right after her father's funeral, we were at Wal-Mart," said Cindy Estoch, Casey's mother. "She (stacked) forty-two."

"I never even thought about it," Casey said. "I didn't think I was going to get into the finals. I forgot all about it."

But about three weeks ago, a telephone call from Nabisco let her know she had made the cut and was going to compete in Orlando for the grand prize of a $20,000 saving's bond and a year's supply of Oreos.

"I didn't believe it," Casey said. "I thought it was a joke, and my ankle was hurting. I twisted it."

Getting ready

When asked about the price of a bag of Oreos, Cindy Estoch rapidly rattles off "$1.92." It's the mark of a woman who has bought many bags to let her daughter practice her tower-building capabilities.

"They would go down pretty quick," Estoch said. "They got to where they (Casey and her two brothers) were throwing them at each other. I'm still finding them."

The point, however, was not to let Casey get too involved in the heat of the contest and worry too much about winning.

"I told her it's for fun," Cindy Estoch said. "The times that we did practice here, it was brothers and friends and it was just for fun. When we got there (to Orlando), they had rooms set up for practice. I only let her go down the night before.

"She kept thinking, 'Mom, what if I lose? What if I lose?' I said, 'Get up there, take a deep breath, pray. You ask God and Daddy to watch over you and help you get through it.' She did."

Casey said it was nerve-racking.

"It was scary," Casey said. "I was like, 'Get me off this stage.' I asked Daddy to at least let me get over twenty so I won't be embarrassed. I did. I got twenty-one."

Vanilla girl

Casey received T-shirts, an inflatable chair and other assorted items for participating in the national Stack Off.

But even though she came in third, she didn't get an extra supply of Oreos. If you ask Casey, she said that's not so bad a thing. She isn't a huge fan of the entire cream-filled cookie.

"I like vanilla wafers," Casey said. "I like the creamy stuff (in Oreos). I don't like the chocolate."

Casey said she's going to try out for the contest again next year and hopes to beat this year's score.

Her mother has taught her children not to play with their food, but she might just reconsider that philosophy.

"There's exceptions to every rule," Cindy Estoch said with a laugh.

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