Their teachers join the top two spellers for Greenlee County for a photo. Pictured are, back, from left, fifth- grade teacher Rebecca Nations, Greenlee County Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Powers and English teacher Elizabeth Wolf; front, runner-up Isabella Campbell and winner Cambri McCauley.
MORENCI — When Cambri McCauley drew the number one at the Greenlee County Spelling Bee, she rolled her eyes. She would have to be the first speller of the competition and the first to step up to the microphone for every round.
It also turned out to be a harbinger of the finish.
In the 12th round, Morenci’s McCauley correctly spelled the word “adios” to win the 2018 Greenlee County Spelling Bee and advance to the state bee on March 24 in Phoenix.
“Fireworks went off in my head,” McCauley said about hearing her winning word. “I spell that word a lot when I’m texting my friends.”
It was a rough bee for 17 of the 20 contestants from Morenci and Duncan — seven were eliminated in the first round, and 10 more were knocked out in the second. In the fifth round, the word “sitzmark” knocked out Morenci’s Destiny Dionne, leaving McCauley and the 2017 champion, Isabella Campbell, of Morenci.
“I thought I was definitely out,” McCauley said. “I’ve seen Bella at previous spelling bees; she’s really good.”
In the eighth round, both spellers missed words — Campbell misspelled “paddock,” while McCauley misspelled “fiery” — allowing the competition to continue to the 12th round, where Campbell misspelled the word “hyphen,” setting up McCauley’s win with “adios.”
“I think I was more nervous than her,” said McCauley’s father, Jared. “She did quite a lot of studying; she even pushed me to help her study.”
With a little more than a month to go to the state bee, McCauley said she’ll be hitting the books hard.
“I do my homework in study hall, then I go to softball practice, and I’ll study some more when I get home,” she said.
The Arizona Educational Foundation Spelling Bee is March 24, 2018, at Eight/Arizona PBS, 555 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix. The winner of the Arizona Spelling Bee will represent Arizona at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May/early June 2018.