Pinon Hills sixth-grader spells for the win |

Pinon Hills sixth-grader spells for the win

by Scott Neuffer

The procedure of baseball must not be impugnable due to the necessity of solidarity.

Nor would we want a fluorescent seismologist becoming a lackadaisical dissident after studying a medieval encyclopedia.

Not the kind of vocabulary typically used in daily conversation, yet these ad-lib sentences contain 11 of the 18 words Pinon Hills Elementary sixth-grader Raychel Allen, 12, was asked to spell correctly in order to become the district’s top sixth-grade speller.

“It’s awesome,” Raychel said after winning the district spelling bee hosted by Scarselli Elementary School on Thursday. “I like winning.”

It was no easy feat. Raychel competed against 20 other students, three from each elementary school, and words got progressively harder each round.

In total, there were 20 strenuous rounds of spelling, although many in the audience lost count after the seventh round when Raychel began an astonishing head-to-head spell-off with Meneley sixth-grader Aubrey Putansu. The two went 13 rounds together.

In fact, Aubrey had a chance to clinch the competition early in the fifth round when she was the only one of four contestants to correctly spell her word: “fabricator.” However, she misspelled “luminosity,” and the four finalists were at it again. Moving forward, Aubrey nailed “illiteracy,” and Raychel hit “rosetta.”

Aubrey narrowly missed another chance at victory in the 10th round when she spelled Raychel’s word correctly, “seismologist,” but missed her follow-up: “noncommittal.”

Raychel missed a chance herself in the 14th round after spelling out “impugnable,” which Aubrey had missed. A misspelling of “medieval,” however, put the two peers back in competition for another five rounds.

In the end, both missed “accommodate.” Raychel nailed “predecessor” and then correctly followed up with “miniature,” though it was no miniature moment when she was named champion.

“I didn’t really study hard,” Raychel admitted after the event. “But I do read a lot.”

Raychel said “predecessor” was the hardest word of the competition.

“I just got lucky,” she said.

Parents Tim and Valerie Allen pointed to some other factors besides luck.

“She’s smarter than me,” said Valerie. “It was a thrilling ride. I didn’t know half those words.”

“She’s so smart,” added Tim. “She’s good under pressure, too. I’m really proud of her.”

Pinon Hills Principal Rommy Cronin praised the Scripps study guide, created in cooperation with Merriam-Webster, that prepares students for the competition. She said her teachers also make sure students have the materials they need, even if they don’t bother studying.

“Of course, I’m real proud of her,” Cronin said of Raychel.

Aubrey also received high praise for getting so far, and for giving Raychel a run for her money.

“It was sort of nerve-wracking,” Aubrey said after the event. “I didn’t know what all of the words meant. I had to guess for most of them.”

Aubrey also had an opinion on the hardest word of the spelling bee.

“Impugnable,” she said.

Raychel will join seventh-grade champ Heather Vo and eighth-grade champ Malcolm Seamans, both from Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School, at the state spelling bee in Las Vegas on Feb. 26.