Marengo Ranch Elementary fourth grader Maile Lam has earned a spot in the next competition that could lead her to the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be held next spring in Washington, D.C. Maile will next compete in a written test in Sacramento early next year.

Competing against two third graders, Luikarlos Equihua and Kaylen Pascual; one fourth grader, Riley Snider; three fifth graders, Ryan Ochoa, Hannah Abbott and Aiden Frank; and three sixth graders, Kaylaini Avarado, Summer McCoy and Ruby Gold, Maile beat out her competition after 14 rounds of a verbal spelling battle in the school multipurpose room on Thursday, Dec. 6.

After the first round, in which all 10 students spelled their words correctly, rounds 2, 3 and 4 each saw a student drop from the competition. Words proving a little too difficult were splinter, Fiji and distorted.

In rounds 5, 6 and 7, the remaining contestants mastered their spelling words, correctly spelling words such as jerkily, hoisted and guise.

Two students unfortunately came across words just beyond their reach in round 8, failing to spell correctly the words recognition and antagonism; however, the words irked, conservatory and fiddle-faddle (don’t forget the hyphen) were conquered by the other contestants.

Round 9 saw three more students drop with the words percussion, diabolical and dominative, leaving the last two competitors, Maile and Summer, correctly spelling words sepia and humanitarian.

The two girls went three more rounds, each spelling their words correctly. Words they encountered were relinquish, clichés (don’t forget the accent mark), cologne, galleon, bronchitis and dissertation.

In round 13, chloroform tripped up Summer, but Maile correctly spelled balsam. However, the bee is not complete until Maile conquers a last word in a round of her own.

Round 14, fourth grader Maile was given the word espionage, which she spelled successfully, winning her the competition.

This is not Maile’s first rodeo; she came in second in last year’s competition, going stride for stride against a student three years her senior for a 19-round competition.