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We are the champions

justine wettschreck/Daily Globe Worthington Middle School students spelled their way into first place in the individual and team competition Saturday during the Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee. Xochitl Tobias, Davis Moore, Kaitlyn Baustian, Kristy Workman and Sam Martin display their awards.1 / 2
Tobias accepts her first place award from 2011 champion Faith Bose of Murray County Central.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- Worthington Middle School, in their first endeavor as hosts of the Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee on Saturday morning, earned the first place trophy for both team and individual spellers, racking up 164 points as a team. Sixth-grader Xochitl Tobias, of Worthington, out-spelled 49 other students to take home the first place trophy.

The second place individual trophy went to Kaylee Engle of Jackson County Central, and Murray County Central earned the second place team trophy with 148 points.

The morning started out with five students from 10 schools and one or two alternates sitting down for a written test of 35 words that ranged from hibernation to punctual and included words as simple as lute and as difficult as conjunction.

When the tests were scored, 12 students moved on to the next round, which involved sequestering the students while one by one, a students had to spell five words in front of the audience -- "ambrosia," "benign," "hysterical," "pessimistic" and "turbulence."

Perhaps as a sign of things to come, Tobias was the only student who spelled all five correctly. The other 11 students all misspelled the word benign, although several of them got the other four words right.

The scores from that round ended with an unusual situation -- a three-way tie for the fifth position. Alyssa Boynton of Murray County Central, Anna Larson of Westbrook-Walnut Grove and Autumn Mendro of Pipestone Area Schools entered into a spell-off that ended when Boynton and Mendro each missed a word, leaving Larson to spell "diaphragm" and "hyperpyrexia" correctly to earn her spot in the next round.

The final five -- Larson, Engle, Tobias, Kaitlyn Baustian of Worthington and Cole Davis of Murray County Central -- lasted one round of words. Engle and Tobias took their seats while the other three entered into a spell-off. Larson took fifth place, Baustian fourth place, and Davis third place.

Engle and Tobias went several rounds head to head until Engle tripped over the word "homage" and Tobias took first by correctly spelling "siege" and "discretion."

Both girls said they had never been in the regional spelling bee before, and were pleased with their success. Surrounded by proud parents and teachers, the girls admitted they were avid readers, which helped with their spelling prowess.

They each had their own way of battling nervousness -- Engle by studying plenty of words the night before and Tobias by remembering advice from her father.

"He was the one who calmed me down," Tobias admitted. "He told me to slow down and sing my favorite song in my head."

Afterward, she realized she hadn't been singing one song, but a jumble of them to keep her nerves at bay.

Murray County Central's Faith Bose, the 2011 Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee champion, was on hand to award trophies to the winners.

The students who spelled their way into the regional contest included:

Kiana Bartley, Tomas Cherry, Stephanie Lowry, Carmen Olivares, Jade Rohrbauk and alternate Sander Diaz of Brewster Elementary; Chynna Berning, Lizzy Currier, Caitlin Goodrich, Bryanna Klumper, Taylor Wolthuizen and alternate Jaden Bloemendaal of Edgerton Elementary; Tyler Ackerman, Victoria Lavoie, Frances Piper, Brandi Spies, Kaitlyn Vandenbosch and alternate Tucker Engelkes of Fulda Elementary; Molly Brinkman, Engle, Ashley Keck, Ashley Kennedy, Alix Schmidt and alternate Molly Boyum of Jackson County Central; Zach Aanenson, Faith Bose, Boynton, Davis, Tyler Larson and alternates Tanner Spence and Bobby Bleyenberg of Murray County Central; Cade Baartman, Mendro, Emanuel Miller, Kimberly Sanchez, Rachel Stiles and alternate Spencer Olson of Pipestone Area Schools, Miranda Ankrum, Jordyn Berg, Matthew Burns, Lily Her, Larson and alternate Jacob Kleven of Westbrook-Walnut Grove; Londyn Espenson, Chase Maricle, Zach Nelson, Ellie Wolinga and A.J. Fauglid of Windom Area Schools; and Baustian, Sam Martin, Davis Moore, Tobias, Kristy Workman and alternate Anna Meyer of Worthington Middle School.

Daily Globe Reporter Justine Wettschreck can be reached at 376-7322.