Polson student wins ‘best speller’ title in the Lake County Spelling Bee
After seven rounds, only two spellers remained under the lights in the Ronan Performing Arts Center last Thursday night.
Charlo eighth-grader Timber Munson had just been eliminated when she misspelled “tragic,” and victory was close for Polson eighth-grader Cody Baer and Ronan seventh-grader Gabriel Azure, the two remaining contestants in the Lake County Spelling Bee. Surrounded by empty chairs left by their 41 fallen competitors, the boys stood quietly on stage, waiting for the next challenge from pronouncer Marilynn Tanner. Each student knew it would only take one slip of the tongue to end the standoff, and as the rounds wore on, the tension grew.
Curriculum, bruin, gazpacho, percolate — the judge held up the dreaded “incorrect” sign, and one boy held his breath as the other stepped up to the microphone.
“Round 14. Credentials,” Tanner read.
Baer spelled the word correctly, and the pressure was on for Azure.
The auditorium was silent as Azure concentrated for a moment, then slowly spelled the word. Another miss, and Baer was back at the plate.
He thought briefly. “M-o-n-o-t-o-n-o-u-s.”
Judge Susan Black raised the green “correct” sign, and a relieved grin spread slowly across Baer’s face.
“It feels great,” he said after accepting his trophy.
His new title as Lake County Spelling Bee champion also comes with an all-expenses-paid trip to Billings for the Treasure State Spelling Bee March 27. There, he — or an alternate if Baer can’t make it — will compete against the rest of the best spellers in Montana for a spot at the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee May 23-28 in Washington, D.C.
The Lower Flathead Valley Community Foundation will cover travel expenses to Billings for the state bee, according to Kate Ike, Lake County’s deputy superintendent of schools. Each year, the group gives a travel grant for the state bee to the champion Lake County speller. Since the bee is in Billings this time, the award is $500.
“(LFVCF) has been wonderful,” Ike said.
Baer said he feels “pretty much ready” for the state bee, and won’t do much more studying than he did for last week’s bee. Most of his preparation, like many young spellers, comes from extensive reading and the fact that he learned to read at an early age, his father noted. Still, Baer admitted to being very nervous during the bee and guessing on one or two words, including “palatable.”
While students aren’t allowed to study from the official word lists for the bee, “they can study from any place they can get a word, from a dictionary or whatever,” Ike said.
In the past, the spelling words would progressively get more difficult further into the bee, Ike said, but now the easier words are mixed in with the trickier ones.
“You just never know,” she said. “You’re just supposed to know your words.”
Ike thanked the judges and all who helped put on the bee, noting that the Ronan Performing Arts Center is the perfect venue for the spelling bee.
“The acoustics there are wonderful,” she said.
Polson Auto Parts donated trophies for the first, second and third place winners.
Results (with round eliminated and words missed)
Gabriel Azure, Ronan, 14, curriculum, gazpacho, relevant
Anna Young, Polson, 2, affiliation
Tommy Mercer, Polson, 2, financier
Presley Learn, Dayton, 1, tolerant
Sierra Lilly, Polson, 2, rutabaga
Jacey Probst, Ronan, 5, gardenia
Dylan Noyes, Polson, 2, larynx
Rebecca Whitesell, Polson, 2, conundrum
Skyler Grove, Arlee, 2, rotisserie
Courtney Taylor, Charlo, 2, circuitous
Hannah Bird Rattler, Ronan, 2, calisthenics
Rhylee Burland, Ronan, 1, apology
Bryce Cullen, Ronan, 2, photosynthesis
Timber Munson, Charlo, 7, tragic
Julian Couture, Ronan, 2, psychoanalysis
Kelan Couture, Ronan, 1, immature
Alex Bertollt, Arlee, 1, denominator
Alejandro Segura, Ronan, 2, cajolery
Cierra Judd, Homeschool, 2, vengeance
Braden Youngren, Ronan, 4, necessary
Malysa Lamphere, Polson, 2, labyrinth
Brianna Harris, Ronan, 2, latitudinarian
Carter Ostler, Charlo, 2, ineffable
Jacob Broughton, Ronan, 6, llama
Kristin Young, Polson, 2, omniscient
Joseph Webster-Yaqui, Ronan, 2, analgesia
Michael Kulasekera, Polson, 2, brigadier
Haley Kendley, Polson, 1, indelible
Gabrielle Wheeler, Arlee, 1, subterranean
Maria Heutmaker, Polson, 2, fallacy
Stone Garfield, Ronan, 1, competitive
Cody Baer, Polson, bruin, percolate
Trinceton Brown, Charlo, 6, maraca
Cherrish Olson, Polson, 1, patience
Harold Yocum, Arlee, 1, accomplice
Ryan Dresen, Ronan, 5, gorgeous
Nicholas Durglo, St. Ignatius, 2, adieu
Heather Bruton, MVCA, 2, paramecium
Jlee Anderson, St. Ignatius, 1, pigeon
Chris Love, Arlee, 2, periscope
Sharidan Russell, Polson, 2, cameo
Natalee Wheeler, Dayton, 1, quarantine