Over ninety of the county’s best spellers gathered once again under the redwood trees at UCSC for the annual Santa Cruz County Spelling Bee. The students, divided into an Elementary Division, for grades 4-6 and Junior Division for grades 7-9, represented public and private schools from across the county.
This year’s contest was particularly challenging, especially compared to previous years. There were no perfect papers in either division this year. The winner of the Elementary Division, Connor Barirani, spelled 65 of 76 words correctly and the winner of the Junior Division, Owen Mercer, correctly spelled 63 of 70 words. Some of the stumpers that the eventual victors got right included gherkin, fiery, and benign in the Elementary Division and sergeant, sciatica, and ubiquitous in the Junior Division.
In the Elementary Division, an initial two-way tie for first between Connor Barirani, of Kirby School and Owen McGinty of Rio Del Mar Elementary School, necessitated a spell-off. Connor Barirani emerged as the Elementary Division spelling champion by correctly spelling cacophony. Owen McGinty was then named the second-place winner. A two-way tie for third place, between Ronan Mai of Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School and Abigail Deutsch of Bradley Elementary, led to another spell-off. Ronan Mai took home the third place trophy by correctly spelling belligerence.
Owen Mercer of Scotts Valley Middle School captured first place in the Junior Division. A tie between JJ Kim-Eubio, of Alianza Charter School, and Tristan Torres, from Aptos Junior High School, led to a prolonged spell-off duel between these two past champions. Tristan Torres eventually claimed second place and J.J. Kim-Eubio third. The deciding word for this year’s contest was deficiency but clearly none of the winners in either division could be described as deficient is spelling ability.
The top two winners from each division represent Santa Cruz County at the State Spelling Bees held in May in Stockton for the Elementary Division and Marin County for the Junior Division.
Students Compete in Annual Spelling Bee published in the Register Pajaronian, February 1, 2018.
Countywide Spelling Bee Winners published in the TPG (Times Publishing Group), February 2, 2018.