Lochridge repeats as county spelling champ

Dillon seventh grader Ti’el Lochridge asks for a word to be used in a sentence during the Beaverhead County Spelling Bee last Wednesday. Lochridge won the contest to advance to the state competition. J.P. Plutt photo


Ti’el Lochridge defended her Beaverhead County Spelling Bee title last Wednesday at the Beaverhead County Courthouse court room and will make her second trip to the state spelling bee in Billings.  Lochridge, competing in her third county contest, is a seventh grader at Dillon Middle School and bested 15 other spellers from throughout the county.

The battle for the honor of top speller in the county came down to a one-on-one battle between Lochridge and Dillon Middle School eighth grader Zach Bissonette.  Lochridge claimed the right to advance to state when Bissonette erred on the word vibrato on the 13th round.  Lochridge successfully spelled angelic in the 13th round and then won the bee with the correct spelling of character in the 14th round.

“I thought it was kind of unfair because I got a really easy word to win,” said Lochridge.  “I felt like I could have at least gotten a harder word.”

Lochridge had a chance to win earlier in the contest when Bissonette missed on ambiguity in the ninth round.  Lochridge completed the round with the correct spelling of isobar, but then missed on lariat in the 10th round to bring Bissonette back into the contest.

Bissonette advanced through the next two rounds spelling temporal and diagnosis before missing on vibrato.  Lochridge matched her opponent spelling potash and trauma before concluding with her winning combination of angelic and character.

At one point, the field had dwindled to Bissonette and five girls before the battle of the sexes evened up with the final pair.  Rachel Stanchfield of Wise River Elementary School finished in third place when she missed on the word innate in the 8th round.

Lochridge advances to her second consecutive State Spelling Bee in Billings.  She fell to elimination last year on the word ameliorate.

“I learned that I should probably study more because all of the words were really hard,” said Lochridge of her experience from a year ago.  She added that the word list is much more difficult than the one used at the county bee.  “The did some pretty tough words.”

Judges for the contest were Alice Bengeyfield, Sharon Morehouse and Patti Odasz.  Odasz was in charge of the tape recorder in case of a dispute, but the recorder was never called into play.  Beaverhead County Superintendent of Schools Linda Marsh served as the rounds judge.

Mike Schulz was originally named the pronouncer, but fell ill the day of the event.  Marsh recruited Otis Anderson as a replacement pronouncer.

The contest ran smoothly with the judges gathering on two occasions to discuss potential problems.  In the first instance, the judges felt the pronunciation of a word was not clear and eliminated the word.  On the second gathering, the pronouncer asked if he could drop a word from the scripted list and the judges agreed.  On a third occasion, the pronouncer asked from the booth if he could drop the word muu muu, a loose flowing gown from the Hawaiian culture.  The judges agreed to drop the word.

Lucy Wright of Dillon, and Justin Martinell of Lima were competing in their second county spelling bee.  Colter Stanchfield of Wise River qualified for his second straight county bee but missed Wednesday’s contest due to sickness.

To get comfortable with the format, Marsh put all 15 spellers through two practice rounds before the contest officially began.  Eight students were eliminated in the first official round on the following words:  sable, stethoscope, dissect, bangle, glitz, massage, earthenware, and chocolate.  Second, third and fourth round misses came on the words honcho, icicle, geode, and permian.

Heidi Martin, a return competitor from last year, was at the microphone when the discussion on the word muu muu came up.  She fell to elimination in fourth place on the replacement word layette.  

2014 Beaverhead County Spelling Bee participants:  Dillon Elementary and Middle School – Zach Bissonette, Jody Detlaff, Matt Herrin, Gabe Kirkley, Anne Larson, Ti’el Lochridge, Heidi Martin, Lucy Wright.  Grant Elementary – Tristen Setzer.  Jackson Elementary – Alex Cox, Dusty Dawson.  Lima Elementary – Adrianna Briggs, Kassidy Broere, Reata Crafton, Justin Martinell.  Wise River Elementary – Rachel Stanchfield, (Colter Stanchfield qualified but missed the bee due to sickness).