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‘Streusel' is sweet word for spelling champ
Last year's third-place speller took home the crown at this year's Yuma County Spelling Bee with “streusel.”
Victoria Pena, an eighth-grade student from Crane Middle School, won the 67th annual event after also giving the correct spelling of the word “scampi,” which was misspelled by runner-up Jacque Quintana, 13.
Pena, 14, said there was a lot of anticipation in the final rounds when it was down to two competitors. “I thought the girl who I was with in the last round could have beat me definitely, so it was scary,”
Pena, who had been studying the word list since she won her school bee in December, said she was excited to finally receive the top title after participating in county spelling bees since the fifth grade.
“At the beginning (of the competition), I wasn't very nervous because I've done this for four years, so it doesn't really make me nervous anymore. But toward the end when there was four and then three people left — that made me a little bit nervous.”
Her father, Jay Pena, said that he believed their study of the enunciation of the words and their language of origin helped her win this year. “She put in so much effort this year, she really did.”
She added that she also had an application on her iPad that allowed her to enter the list in directly. “I just started using that this year, and I'm glad I did,” said Pena, who is also the Gowan Achievement Program president at her school. The GAP program is for excelling students in the Crane Elementary School District who have exceeded all the standards on the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) exam.
Quintana, an eighth-grader from Dateland Elementary School, said she was really excited to receive second place after many hours of studying with her younger brother, Anthony, 11, as well as with her teacher, Martha Jones.
“I was really nervous on stage,” she said. “I would pray to God to keep me in and not miss the next word.”
Yazan Abdella, a fifth-grade student from Desert View Academy, placed third when he misspelled “mikado.”
A few of the 147 words spelled by the 52 students representing their campuses in Thursday's countywide competition were “lithe,” “mizzle,” “hydraulic,” “percolate,” “castanets,” “mercurial,” “gulden,” “misanthropy,” “satori,” “kudzu,” “colloquial” and “sevruga.”
Karen Phillips, the Yuma Sun's Newspapers in Education manager, said the top two participants received plaques during a pizza lunch at the Yuma Art Center, where all spellers were recognized for participating.
Other major sponsors of the event include Arizona Public Service, Allied Waste, Domino's Pizza and Coca-Cola.
Sarah Womer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.