By Michelle Seeber
Twenty-nine words into the 13th round, Zach Gillooly of Clovis won the regional spelling bee Saturday at Clovis Community College.
The 12-year-old seventh-grader from Yucca Junior High School won by correctly spelling the word “dipsomania.”
Because he won, Zach will get to travel to Washington, D.C., on a trip sponsored by Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
He also won a Webster’s unabridged dictionary, a $100 savings bond, a plaque, T-shirt and a tuition scholarship for one course at Clovis Community College.
He defeated last year’s first-place winner, Michael Martinez, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Tucumcari Middle School. Martinez came in second place, after failing to correctly spell the word, “willowware.”
Taking third place was Lizzie Rebman, a 12-year-old sixth-grader from Mesa Elementary School, who spelled all her words correctly until she misspelled “brigand.”
Rebman received a plaque and a check for Amazon.com. Martinez won a Webster’s unabridged dictionary, a plaque and a check for Amazon.com.
Zach said he felt nervous about going to Washington to participate in the national spelling bee.
Other than that, “I want to go see all the sights,” he said.
Zach had been preparing for Saturday’s spelling bee since December by practicing with his father.
“My dad would ask me the words in my book, and I’d spell them for him,” he said. “If I got a word wrong, he marked it. Then we’d go over it again.”
Asked what he planned to do with his award and $100 check, Zach said, “I’ll probably save the cash and hang the plaque up in my room.”
Zach’s parents, Teresa and Patrick Gillooly, said they planned to accompany him to the nation’s capital.
“My heart is just pounding,” Teresa said after Zach won the bee. “I am so proud of him. He’s just awesome. He’s been wanting to go to Washington, D.C. He’s never been there.”
The spelling bee Saturday went the most rounds of any spelling bee in the last six years, said Cindy Martin, co-coordinator of the event.
“It was really good to watch,” she said.