Spelling bee stings all but one
with devilish words of love
By Aaron Falk
February 13, 2005 | Benjamin Green stood on stage
in the TSC Sunburst Lounge, Friday, with a straight-faced
expression, his sweatshirt -- a mixture of green, blue,
white and pink -- tucked into his jeans. He kept both
hands in his pockets, exposing a calculator wristwatch.
Next to him, Paul Romney stood, tapping on the microphone
and tugging at a non-existent tie like the Rodney Dangerfield
of spelling bees.
Mark Damen, one of four professors from the university's
classics department who hosted the "Spelling Bee My
Valentine," listed off the Valentine-themed vocabulary
for several rounds while Green and Romney battled back-and-forth.
Finally, Romney tripped up on "coquetry," a word that
means "playful behavior intended to arouse sexual interest,"
according to www.dictionary.com.
While Romney stumbled, Green did not.
"I feel pretty good," he said after winning the competition
and earning a Dell desktop computer. "You probably want
a really big word, though. I feel exuberant."
Romney, who took home an iPod as the runner-up, said
the trick to becoming better at spelling is simply reading
"It's not like I read the dictionary," he said after
"I used to," Green chimed in. "But don't tell anybody
Others, like eighth-place finisher Gary Brimley, a
biological engineering student who spelled "tryst" with
an "I," had more advice for spelling bee competitors.
"Always ask for an alternate pronunciation," he said.
Both Romney and Green said they had competed in spelling
bees before Friday, Romney finished in seventh-place
two years ago at USU and Green competed in spelling
bees while growing up in Santa Clara, Utah.
ASUSU Academic Senate President Spencer Watts, who
sponsored the event, said 58 spellers competed. While
that number is lower than the 80 participants they had
expected, Watts said he was still pleased.
"We had a good turnout," he said. "There aren't a
whole lot of academic competitions on campus.
The event was a single-elimination competition, featuring
three rounds. About 20 spellers survived the opening
round. The field was then narrowed to eight finalists.
Tracy Lund, last year's champion misspelled "brochette"
in the semi-finals. Lund said she was disappointed because
she "wanted to win another computer.
Fourth-place finisher Zann Anderson, a computer science
major who misspelled "uxorious," said the competition
was worthwhile regardless of where he finished.
"It was really fun," he said. "But I would have traded
for any of (the other finalist's) words.