Perhaps the only thing more difficult than spelling "anxieties" is to feel it while watching your best friend compete in the district-wide spelling bee.
Melissa Whitcome watched as her friend Jordyn Troop won Eagle Valley Middle School's spelling bee and fixed Jordyn's hair -- complete with glitter -- for the district competition.
"It's been really nerve wracking," said Melissa as she watched her friend compete Thursday. "I just want her to win."
And she did.
After going six rounds, Jordyn correctly spelled "fiery" to take the title of best speller in the sixth-grade.
Winners from Eagle Valley Middle School, Bethlehem Lutheran School and St. Teresa School met Thursday evening in Senator Square of Carson High School to battle it out letter-by-letter.
It was a familiar battle for Bethlehem Lutheran seventh-grader Joshua Gansberg, who won the competition as a sixth-grader. He went on to win it again this year.
"I just study," he explained. "I was a little nervous but not as nervous as I was the first year."
The three winners from the sixth- through eighth-grade competitions will advance to compete at the state level March 2 at the University of Nevada, Reno.
It is hard to imagine, however, a tighter competition than the one between eighth-graders Sam Saunders of Eagle Valley Middle School and Jared Case who advanced nine rounds.
Jared proved he was no novice when he correctly spelled the word and Sam nearly had to sacrifice the championship when judges misunderstood his spelling of "sacrifice."
But it was Sam who claimed the victory after Jared slipped up on "concatenate" and Sam nailed "interrogate."
Sam conceded, however, that much of it was luck.
"I did better than I thought I would," he said. "He had harder words than I did."
Principal Ferd Mariani was on hand to congratulate the winners from his school.
"I was very proud of our Eagle Valley Middle School students," he said. "They showed a lot of class and school pride."
The district did not hold a spelling bee for many years but began again last year to qualify students to compete at the state level.
"Any kind of a competition like this not only promotes the skills involved, it also rewards an area of academic achievement that rarely gets recognized," said associate superintendent Mike Watty. "We're happy to be sponsoring it not only for schools in our district but private school in the city as well."
Contestants and winners:
Jordyn Troop, Eagle Valley Middle School -- winner
Siera Trotter, Bethlehem Lutheran School
Kacey Potter, St. Teresa School
Amanda Kennedy, Eagle Valley Middle School
Mackenna Bell, Eagle Valley Middle School
Joshua Gansberg, Bethlehem Lutheran School -- winner
Kyle Jones, St. Teresa School
Cory Dimmick, Eagle Valley Middle School
Greg Saunders -- Eagle Valley Middle School
Matt White -- Eagle Valley Middle School
Sam Saunders, Eagle Valley Middle School -- winner
Jared Case, Bethlehem Lutheran School
Ryan Moreland, St. Teresa School
Rachel Harvick, Eagle Valley Middle School
Amanda Barnes, Eagle Valley Middle School