The winning word, “babushka,” crowns Ecker Hill sixth-grader Park Record Spelling Bee champion
When Emilia Lytle took her seat on the Egyptian Theatre stage Monday night, she looked around at her competitors and wondered how far she would make it in the Park Record Spelling Bee.
But as she continued to spell every word correctly, other students were dismissed off the stage. Lytle started thinking she could win when she was one of two remaining contenders. Her opponent, Ethan Scott, misspelled the word “impetuous,” and Lytle gasped. Then, she stepped up to the microphone to spell what would be her winning world: “babushka.”
Lytle, a sixth-grade student at Ecker Hill Middle School, won the 13th annual Park Record Spelling Bee, and Scott, an eighth-grader from Rocky Mountain Middle School, won second place. Tanvi Penubothu, a seventh-grader from Ecker Hill, won third place.
Lytle said she was shocked that she won, especially because she did not qualify to participate in the Park Record Spelling Bee the last two years. When she qualified this year, she was ecstatic.
“I was really, really happy, because I didn’t think I would make it,” she said.
But, despite her excitement, she said the bee snuck up on her. She forgot to practice until the day of the competition. Every time she stepped up to the microphone Monday night, she said she was nervous she would misspell a word.
“Every round I was like, ‘I’m definitely going to get out,’” she said.
That feeling carried over to the final word, which Lytle said she was unsure about. When she spelled it correctly, she said she was speechless.
It started to sink in when a judge told Lytle, “Now you get to go to nationals.” Lytle will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., at the end of May. The Park Record will send Lytle to the nationally televised event.
She was glad to be back on the stage. When she was in elementary school, she participated in the second- and third-grade competition that takes place before the official bee. She won the competition as a second-grader. Brenda Lytle, her mom, said she was “amazed and ecstatic” that her daughter walked away with the trophy. But, she said, most of all she was proud.
Earlier Monday, Chloe Llewellyn, a third-grade student at Parley’s Park Elementary School, won first place in the second- and third-grade competition for the second year in a row. She bested Axel Solander, a third-grader at Park City Day School, after the two students went back and forth for several minutes. Solander went out on the word “pecan” and Llewellyn won by spelling the word “floss” correctly.
Llewellyn said she made flashcards of the practice words and reviewed them almost daily for the previous month. Her parents would throw out words for her to spell during breakfast or dinner.
Llewellyn hoped she could win the competition again, and she was not disappointed. She said she plans to try to qualify for the official Park Record Spelling Bee in the future.
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