This year Michael Martinez did not make it to the finals in Washington D.C. in spelling, but he got about as close as it is possible to get without actually making it. In the regional spelling bee in Clovis which determined who would move on to the next level in spelling, the National Championships in Washington, Michael Martinez of Tucumcari is the runner up.
The Tucumcari spelling wizard who did make it to Washington last year said he was a bit upset with himself because he did not know there were three “Ws” in “willowware.”
“Yeah,” said Martinez, “I just didn’t know. I should have known it because of the definition, but I wasn’t sure what to do.”
So instead the eighth grader, who has hopes of becoming either a lawyer or architect when he grows up just put the two “Ws” in the word. The Tucumcari 13 year old said 36 middle-school-aged young people competed in the spelling bee in Clovis and Martinez said he quickly picked out who would be in the final with him. He said he had seen Zach Gillooly the year before.
“I kind of knew he was going to be good,” said Martinez. “I saw him last year (in the 2003 regional competition). Yeah, he got third last year.”
Martinez said it was a solid competition even before he and Gillooly hit the final rounds.
“We had 11 rounds of regular competition,” said Martinez, “and then I think about five championship rounds,” between Gillooly and himself.
“Yeah it was a good competition.”
The Tucumcari Middle School student said the finish was a bit frustrating for him because he knew how to spell the word that won it for Gillooly; “dipsomania.” His teachers said they are proud of him for simply making it too the competition much less, serving as alternate to the champion.
“I think he did an awesome job,” said middle school teacher Danica Arguello. “He worked really. Everybody here is very proud of him.’
This year was the final year that Martinez could compete since the eighth grade year is the last year for a student to compete. As runner up, if anything happens to Gillooly, Martinez will replace him.