The tension was thick. Everyone was on the edge of their seats.
“PANZER. P-A-N-Z-E-R. PANZER.”
With the correct spelling of the word that means “an armored vehicle, particularly during World War II,” Marion Middle School eighth-grader Monica Spachek won the Marion County spelling bee Feb. 11 at USD 408 Performing Arts Center.
She will advance to the next round March 14 at Great Bend.
Actually, it took more than the correct spelling of just one word.
There were 20 students, grades three through eight, from the five Marion County school districts competing for the coveted title. In all it took nearly 20 rounds and 82 words to determine the winner, runner-up, and third and fourth places.
With each round, the words became more difficult.
When it came down to the two finalists, Monica and Colton Terronez of Peabody-Burns Elementary School, each participant could miss two times before being eliminated. Back and forth the two went. One would get a word wrong and then the other.
Both were tied at missing two words.
Then Monica spelled “ELITE. E-L-I-T-E. ELITE.”
Her next word was the winning word and she knew she was the champion.
Sixth grader Justin Bina of Centre was the third-place winner and Tabitha Oborny, Centre sixth-grader, placed fourth.
The competition began a few months ago when each school district held spelling bees. The top four students from each school district then competed in the countywide event.
The competitors spent hours studying and maybe even some sleepless nights in anticipation of the big day. The stress and anxiety of standing on the large stage in front of family, friends, and strangers to spell words was evident during the competition.
However, the participants were poised and businesslike each time they approached the microphone and spelled a word.
USD 408 hosted the event this year. Next year, USD 398 Peabody-Burns will be hosts.
Following are the participants, grades, and schools they represented.
USD 397 Centre
Kylie Beeler, eighth grade.
Justin Bina, sixth grade.
Amy Makovec, seventh grade
Tabitha Oborny, sixth grade.
USD 411 Goessel
Dane Krueger, sixth grade.
Alicen Meysing, fifth grade.
Lydia Smith, fourth grade.
Austin Strunk, seventh grade.
USD 410 Hillsboro
Jacob Hanschu, sixth grade.
Lauren Henderson, third grade.
Abi Hurst, fifth grade.
Erin Wiebe, seventh grade.
USD 408 Marion
Zac Fruechting, fifth grade.
Nicholas Meyer, seventh grade.
Monica Spachek, eighth grade.
Tori Smith, fourth grade.
USD 398 Peabody-Burns
Christian Gard, eighth grade.
Lily Partridge, fifth grade.
Colton Terronez, sixth grade.
Seth Topham, eighth grade.