PJHS student wins county spelling bee for second time

By Clarence Plank: PNT staff writer

Hard work and study paid off for the winners of Saturday’s annual Roosevelt County Spelling Bee at Eastern New Mexico University.

A dozen Roosevelt County students competed in the event.

Winners included Portales Junior High School seventh-grader Mathew Sanchez, 12, who competed in the senior division, and Floyd Elementary School fourth-grader Diana Gallegos, 9, who competed in the junior division. Both will be going to state speeling bee in March.

Sanchez said he studied an hour a day to prepare for the contest.

“This is my third year competing in the spelling bee,” Sanchez said. “I won last year and this year. I enjoy the competition and the awards.”

Sanchez advances to the New Mexico State Spelling Bee in March at Albuquerque.

Sanchez and senior runner-up Nicholas Brown, 9, both had to spell “infinity” to win. Brown, a fourth-grader at Valencia Elementary School, misspelled but Sanchez said it was a word he knew.

This was Brown’s first time in the spelling bee. Brown was also the junior runner-up and was given the chance to compete against seniors since junior champion Gallegos opted not to.

“The junior division winners have the option to participate in the senior division,” said Carol Erwin, spelling bee director. “Diana didn’t want to, but Nicholas did. That’s why he was able to do that.”

Erwin said it is hard for juniors to make it this far in the senior division.

Contestants compete in two rounds and those who spell correctly remain. In the last round, someone spelling a word correctly must spell a second word to win, said Erwin.

“If Mathew had misspelled a word, then he and Nicholas would have had to compete in another round,” Erwin said. “Then it starts over again, so you have to spell two words correctly in order to win.”

Brown said he is planning on competing in next years spelling bee.

“This was a lot fun,” Brown said. “Being able to learn words I don’t even know the meaning of, everybody was given the same list and then we had to practice them.”

Roosevelt County Spelling Bee results

Junior Division

• Winner — Diana Gallegos

Runner-up — Nicholas Brown

Senior Division

Winner — Mathew Sanchez

Runner-up — Nicholas Brown