Hobson’s Watson is four-time spelling winner

Judith Basin County Spelling Bee winner Reba Watson holds the travelling plaque that will now proclaim her spelling prowess. Reba earned her fourth county spelling championship March 1 in Hobson.

Photo by Vicky McCray


Special to the News-Argus


Hobson eighth grader Reba Watson spelled “maladroit” correctly on Wednesday, March 1, and won the honor to represent Judith Basin County at the Treasure State Spelling Bee in Billings, today, Saturday, March 18.

The young woman’s win was no surprise to many, as she has proven her spelling prowess for several years. Spelling bees are open to students in fifth through eighth grades, and Watson has won the county bee every year since her fifth-grade year. This year is her final year for competition, but chances are she will not be retiring her good spelling habits. Quite the contrary, she will carry them with her all through life. 

The winning word this year was “maladroit,” not an adjective that in any way describes Watson and her spelling. She is very skillful and careful when she receives a word, frequently asking the pronouncer for the word’s definition and to use the word in a sentence. She told the Press this time allows her time to give the word’s spelling more thought.

Watson hopes to fare well at state and is diligently studying for it. Her mom and dad, Tracy and Tom Watson, take an active interest in working with her in this endeavor.

Fourteen other spellers joined Watson for the county bee, which was held in Hobson this year. Each of the county’s three schools takes a turn hosting the bee. 

In addition to Watson, Hobson was represented by Heath Drivdahl, fourth-grader; Grace Loose, seventh-grader; Dakota Auck, eighth-grader; Allison Wertheimer, eighth-grader and Becca Lynn, sixth-grader.

Spellers for Geyser were Kaitlyn Boberg, eighth-grader; Jayd Finlayson, eighth-grader; Robin Hofer, eighth-grader; Dillon Johnson, eighth-grader and Jody Hofer, eighth-grader.

Stanford spellers were Boone Smail, eighth-grader; Jada Errecart, sixth-grader; Kurryn Schullerman, seventh-grader and Whitley Keimig, fifth-grader.

Hobson teacher Connie Metcalfe was in charge of the bee and welcomed spellers and audience members. She also served as the bee’s pronouncer. Geyser English teacher Lindsey Seitz and Stanford English teacher Sean McConnaha were the judges. Their job was to uphold the rules and to determine whether a speller spelled his/her word correctly. Their decisions were final.

Hobson sixth-grade teacher Karen Hickey jotted down each student’s spelling of his/her given word and kept a tally of the spellers in each round. The tally is important should the last few spellers all go out in the same round before a winner is declared.

The 2017 Bee consisted of four rounds, with 11 of the 15 spellers spelling out in the first round. The four remaining spellers – Hobson’s Watson and Lynn, Geyser’s Robin Hofer and Stanford’s Smail – were given second words – “stratagems,” “pearlescent,” “petrifying” and “boulevards,” respectively.

Smail misspelled his word and took his seat, leaving Watson, Lynn and Hofer for round three.

Hofer misspelled her third word, “bestial,” and the two Hobson spellers went on to round four, Lynn spelling “enumerated” correctly and Watson spelling “discreetly” correctly.  

In the fourth round Lynn misspelled “hovel” and Watson spelled her word, “collision,” correctly.  All she had to do then was spell a second word correctly in order to win the bee. “Maladroit” was that word.

Watson’s winning words in the three previous years’ bees were “gustatory,” “albeit,” and “resume.”

A traveling Judith Basin County Spelling Bee plaque will stay in Hobson for another year, Watson’s name the only name on the plaque so far. The plaque was purchased for the 2013–2014 bee year. Prior to this year, winners were awarded individual trophies.

The winner of the state bee receives a plaque as well as a trip to the 90th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, at the end of May.



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