The blue and gold first-place trophy clutched in his hands stood at almost half his size.
A small smile crossed the fourth-grader’s face as he stood among competitors, who placed in the Top 10, from the 2012 Belen Consolidated Schools’ Spelling Bee on Friday.
But as soon as Jace McNabb, a Central Elementary School student, walked off stage, his smile spread across his face, reaching his ears. McNabb laughed and smiled as his mother hugged him while congratulating him and exclaiming, “I can’t believe it!”
McNabb spelled his way to first place in the district bee after facing St. Mary’s Catholic School eighth-grader Brian Jiron for 19 championship rounds.
The two bounced back and forth in the Belen High School auditorium between spelling challenge words, such as herbaceous and invertebrate, right and wrong.
Audience members full of fourth- through eighth-graders, parents and spelling bee coaches cheered during the two finalists’ successes, some, under their breath, even spelling the challenge words with the students and uttering words of encouragement, and sighing when a word was spelled incorrectly.
During Round 24, McNabb spelled “stenographer,” a word Jiron missed, and won the spelling bee with the championship word “subconscious.”
The audience held their breath during round eight, when Jiron, a St. Mary’s Catholic School student, spelled his championship word, “invertebrate,” incorrectly.
McNabb, who won first place at the Central Elementary School spelling bee in November, said he conducted spelling drills every day after school with his mother and father for one month to prepare for the district spelling bee.
“I was scared at first, but now I’m not,” McNabb said.
This year’s district bee saw 54 contestants from nine Belen schools battle to take a ribbon or trophy home. The words began with “pill” and escalated to “amigo,” “infinitesimal” and “contemporaneous.”
Belen school students, who placed in the Top 10, will move on to face spellers throughout the county in the Valencia County Spelling Bee, scheduled for 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 22, at the Terry Ortiz Resource Center in Los Lunas.
Those who placed in the Top 10 include Angela Winsor, a fifth-grader from Rio Grande Elementary School, who took third place; Daniela Linares, a sixth-grader at Gil Sanchez Elementary School, who took fourth place; Megan Gabaldon, a sixth-grader at La Merced Elementary School, who took fifth place; Pearl Andrews, an eighth-grader at Belen Middle School, who took sixth place; Hannah Gonzales, a sixth-grader at Belen Family School, who took seventh place; William Chavez, a fifth-grader at Dennis Chavez Elementary School, who took eighth place; Isabella Torres, an eighth-grader at BMS, who took ninth place; and Bianca Baca, an eighth-grader at St. Mary’s, who took 10th place.
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