By Lillian Bowe
Standing in front of three judges, the pronouncer, a room filled with parents and other spelling bee contestants, Riley Lujan, a sixth-grader at Lindsey-Steiner Elementary breathed deeply before spelling tycoon to win the title of Roosevelt County spelling bee champion.
“I was so nervous up there, but I get to go to Albuquerque,” Lujan said.
Lujan and 14 students from across Roosevelt County competed in the spelling bee on Friday at Eastern New Mexico University’s Buchanan Hall in the Music Building.
The spelling bee was spilt into to two division. The junior division had nine students from Valencia, Dora, Lindsey-Steiner and Floyd elementary schools from third through fifth grade.
The winner of the junior division was Donovan Garcia, 11, from Lindsey-Steiner Elementary. Garcia won the junior division with the word farthing.
“I am so excited,” said Garcia with a huge smile.
Winning the junior competition, Garcia had the option to compete in the senior division with students in grade sixth through eighth.
“I really want to go to state. I think I can do it,” said Garcia before he decided to complete in with the five other students.
The first round of the senior division had half of the competitor out on the first words.
Julian Jimenez, from Floyd, Garcia and Lujan made it to the second round and went through two sets of words, before Garcia misspelt worrisome.
They advanced to the final round where Lujan won a plaque and a $500 scholarship to ENMU.
Lujan will be representing Roosevelt County in the New Mexico State Spelling Bee on March 22 at Sandia Prep School in Albuquerque.
Carol Erwin, the spelling bee director, said she was impressed with how confident a speller Lujan and Garcia were.
“I am excited to see how Riley does in Albuquerque,” Erwin said.