By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer
Beagles may be more popular after the Westminster Dog Show last week, but “schnauzer” was the buzzword during Saturday’s Curry County Spelling Bee.
Christina Benitscheck will advance to the Regional Spelling Bee in Canyon, Texas, after correctly spelling the German dog breed in the final round of the competition.
Christina competed against eight other spellers in the senior division of the Curry County Spelling Bee at the Clovis Community College Town Hall auditorium. The senior division includes students from sixth through eighth grades. The winner in this competition advances to the March 22 regional spelling bee.
Texico Elementary student Jonah Tuls won the junior division, which allowed him to compete in the senior division.
About 50 people attended the event, according to Becky Rowley, CCC executive vice president for educational services.
Christina went 19 back-to-back rounds against runner-up Kasey Cooper of Clovis Christian School. Benitscheck won the contest after Cooper misspelled “beleaguer,” which means to harass, or to set with a difficulty.
“Actually, I wasn’t too sure about my winning word,” said Christina, who is homeschooled. “I was almost thinking that it was ‘schnauzer’ or ‘schnauser.’ But I pictured it in my head and ‘schnauzer’ looked right.”
Christina said she enjoys competing in spelling bees because it gives her the chance to show off her talents.
“It’s fun because I get recognition for being smart … and if you get to the nationals, you get a free trip to Washington, (D.C.), and that’s good, too,” said Christina, who sat on her hands during Saturday’s contest so she wouldn’t fidget with them.
Judy Benitscheck, Christina’s mother, said she enjoys watching her daughter compete.
“She loves it,” said Benitscheck, who is also the county spelling bee coordinator. “She’s smiling all the time. She’s very enthusiastic. I think it’s because she’s prepared.”
Christina competed against 286 spellers during last year’s Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee Championship. She said she started preparing for this year’s competition immediately after the national.
“There is a study booklet that most words in county bees are from, unless it goes on for quite a while,” she said. “And it consists of about 700-800 words. And so my mom would quiz me on the words, and if I got one wrong, I would write it down for further study.”
The event was sponsored by the Amarillo Globe-News, Clovis Community College, High Plains Federal Credit Union, Hastings Entertainment and Jackson Hewitt Tax Service.
Christina said she looks forward to competing in the regional bee and hopes to make it to the national competition again
“I met quite a few friends there, and I think most of them will make it back so I’m hoping I’ll see them there,” she said.
For winning the county spelling bee, Benitscheck will also receive a scholarship for three credit hours at Clovis Community College and a $25 gift certificate from Hastings.
Senior Division (sixth to eighth grades)
• Clovis: Hannah Dillon, Mikayla Dillon, Lauren Lautenslager
• Grady: Hailey Edwards
• Texico: John Myers
Junior Division (fifth grade and under)
• Clovis: Justin Rucker
• Grady: Chantry Borden, Maija Brown
• Texico: Jonah Tuls
• Melrose: Braden Hemminger