Granite Mountain Middle School student bests rivals at Yavapai County spelling bee
Two years ago, Granite Mountain Middle School student Daxton Bryce placed third in the Yavapai County Spelling Bee. In 2011, he didn't make it out of his school to the county level. This year, he said, he was "going for the win."
The seventh-grader studied extra hard and on Wednesday bested 49 other excellent orthographers to emerge as the top speller in the county.
Chino Valley Del Rio Elementary fifth-grader James Hanson gave Bryce some real competition as he spelled his way through eight rounds with poise, finally misspelling "diesel," while Bryce aced "mascara." Bryce then had to correctly spell "intractable" for the win.
Hanson said he had spelled his way into some of the top rounds of his school bees, but this was his first county spelling bee.
"You can imagine how nervous I was," said the young man, who appeared strikingly calm throughout the bee. "I studied the word lists until today."
The students, who had all won their school bees, worked hard and all wanted to win. A lot of sighing, fidgeting and even tears took place as they worked their way through a word and either smiled in joy or grimaced, depending on the outcome.
In the first round of the bee, which took place at Prescott High School's Ruth Street Theater, such words as "shawl," "macaroni," "mischief" and "quarrel," among others, took out seven contestants.
The second round got a little tougher and seriously narrowed the field. "Schooner," "competently," "nightingale," "livelihood" and "impenetrable" quashed the hopes of 17 more spellers. One intrepid speller, though, heaved a sigh of relief as she correctly negotiated a real whopper, "chickabiddy."
Nine spellers left the stage in round three on, among others, "luau," "malevolent," "knavery," "syringe" and "chromosome."
Pronouncer JoLynne Richter pulled out such words as "simulcast," "perseverance," "linguistically" and "cornea," and six more spellers went down in round four.
Rounds five and six only saw one speller each miss, giving Shinobi Horikawa of Prescott's Mountain Oak Charter School 10th place, and Indy Holdsworth of Taylor Hicks Elementary ninth.
In round seven, such words as "souvenir," "langosta," "incorruptible" and "pumpernickel" bested six more spellers, giving Skylar Gipson, a Prescott Valley School eighth-grader, fifth place; Glassford Hill Middle School eighth-grader Brianna Merrill sixth place; Liberty Traditional School eighth-grader Lucas Joyal fifth, and put Korin Farnsworth, an eighth grader from American Heritage Academy in the Verde Valley, into a runoff for third with William Moreland, a Prescott Valley Granville Elementary School sixth-grader. Farnsworth correctly spelled "fennel," and Moreland missed on "bayou." Then Farnsworth finessed "acme" for the third-place finish.
Bee winner Bryce received a $500 savings bond and a plaque from sponsor M&I Bank. Runner-up, third- and fourth-place spellers also received savings bonds and plaques. The Arizona Sundogs donated game tickets, and local eateries gave meals to the top spellers.
Judges for the event included Ray Newton, Nancy Baker and Bob Williams.
Newton, who is a professor emeritus from Northern Arizona University, lauded the spelling bee and its supporters.
"This is one of the finest events to further quality education in our county," he said.