Clovis Christian fourth-grader Ariel Kokoricha had a solid debut at the state qualifying competition for the Scripps-Howard Spelling Bee, finishing third among 42 New Mexico competitors.
At 9, Arield was the youngest of 42 spellers, and reached the 11th round of the contest. Her third-place finished merited her Amazon.com and American Express gift cards and a year subscription to Brittanica Online Encyclopedia.
Santa Fe eighth-grader Jacob Hunter won the bee, and a berth in the national bee in Washington, D.C., at the end of May.
Ariel was knocked out of the bee with "lenitive," referring to something capable of alleviating pain or discomfort. Her incorrect spelling including an "a" instead of the first "i."
The daughter of Oyin and Tobore Kokoricha, Ariel became the first Clovis Christian student to compete in the state bee.