Joel White won the Idyllwild Elementary School’s 2014-15 Spelling Championship Friday afternoon by correctly spelling “wicked.” White appeared indifferent, hands always in his pockets, and unenthusiastic, but he never hesitated or doubted his ability to spell any word. His toughest competition came from positive and composed fifth-grader Fiona McMullen.
Joel correctly spelled “wicked” and his next word to claim the championship Friday afternoon. His seemingly bored exterior — not even once smiling nor searching the room’s ceiling for help — must have been a sign of his confidence. The opposition would not want Joel shooting the winning free throw.
Middle-school champion and runner-up were sixth graders Tim Mejia and Adam Smith.
Next for the winners and runner-ups will be the Hemet Unified School District Spelling Bee at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 27 in the HUSD board room on Acacia Avenue in Hemet.
Tim and Adam, who only had two other challengers — Litzy Pimentel and Josh Gray, a home-school student — needed eight rounds to settle the Middle School Spelling Bee. Several other students chose not to compete.
But it was the elementary spelling bee that supplied the drama and intense competition to the cloudy afternoon. The elementary spelling bee had 10 entrants and needed 18 rounds before a champion was determined. The first mistake, “puppey,” occurred in round two.
Tension built throughout the Bee. By round four, Grace McKimson was twisting her T-shirt as she stood in front of the judges spelling her word correctly. Meanwhile, Joel and friend Brighton Mllhouse stood with hands in pockets, no smiles, and an apparent nonchalance from round to round.
By round seven, Principal Matt Kraemer made his first adjustment to more difficult words and “hubcap” cost another student. When round 10 began, half the competitors were still spelling; but two missed words in that round left only three — Brighton, Fiona and Joel.
After they all spelled their next words correctly, Kraemer made another jump to more difficult words. Still, the three competitors were not jolted off-stride. Two more rounds were needed before “ritziness” tripped Brighton.
Fiona and Joel dueled another three more rounds and a third word skipped before the “wicked” ending.
While the Middle School Bee needed eight rounds before Tim’s win, the final six rounds were competition between the two finalists, with Tim finally winning on the word “recluse.”