ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Albuquerque made history by hosting the first national Spanish spelling competition and a student from New Mexico took the top honors.
Saturday morning, The Santillana National Spanish Spelling Bee, got underway with 11 students from four states; Oregon, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico.
The entire competition was in Spanish, including when students asked for a sentence or definition of the word they were asked to spell.
For some of the students Spanish is their first language. However, there were some contestants who prefer to speak English at home and had to study the language from top to bottom including how to say and pronounce letters in the Spanish alphabet.
Director David Briseño said it took a lot of hard work and dedication from many people to pull off the launch of the competition.
"It's taken us about two and a half years of work and dreaming and talking to people to get this done," Briseño said.
Evelyn Juarez said just participating in the competition was an honor. The seventh grader from the Espanola area won the top prize after battling with eighth grader German Rojero, from Los Lunas, for more than an hour on stage.
Juarez said she will never forget the last word, "Bizantinismo," she spelled correctly that led to her win, even if the definition slipped her mind.
"I'm not really sure what it means in English," Juarez said.
Juarez said she is already thinking about next year's competition and hopes that there will be more spellers.
Briseño said he expects the number of participants to double if not triple in the next few years. He said there are already states calling for next year's meet.
"I know for sure Minnesota is going to be represented next year," Briseño, "We're hoping that New York state will send their winner and we're working on Florida as well."
ESPN covered the event and many more national media outlets also requested video
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