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Manteca Unified conducts annual spelling bee
Brock Elliott School fourth grader Isabella Martinez breaks into a smile after correctly spelling the final word for the win in the fourth through sixth grade division on Thursday. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Isabella Martinez was one of the youngest participants in Manteca Unified’s Spelling Bee on Thursday.

Her parents, Ray and Regina, were also aware of that and tried carefully not to place too much pressure on the youngster.

But in a pressure-packed situation, young Isabella delivered by spelling “rambunctious.” She secured first place in the fourth- through sixth-grade competition by correctly spelling “incriminate.”

The district-wide event was held at Manteca High’s Mulvihill Theatre.

“I love to read,” said Martinez, who is a fourth-grade student at Brock Elliott School. “I read an hour every day.”

She and second-place finisher, Inder Rondhawa, a Joshua Cowell School sixth grader, squared off after surviving the earlier rounds including one practice round.

They were the last two standing from the field of 20.

In the first two rounds, Martinez was on the mark with “morale” but missed on “pachyderm.” Rondhawa was successful on “adroitness” but misspelled “malleable.”

Third-place finisher Rachel Kudla, an August Knodt sixth-grade student, sailed through the early rounds, spelling correctly “laceration” and “vicious.”

Martinez, Rondhawa and Kudla advanced to the San Joaquin County Office of Education spell-off scheduled for Monday, Dec. 6. The finals will be held on Dec. 8.

In the finals of the MUSD event hosted by Educational Services, Martinez and Rondhawa both missed on “bayou” and “ultimatum.”

Martinez was correct on “gorgeous” and “shrewd” while Rondhawa was successful on “renegade” and “vulgarity.”

Rondhawa was stumped on “rambunctious,” with Martinez spelling that word and next one correctly.

Haleigh Petersen, meanwhile, was competing in her third straight district Spelling Bee. The seventh-grade student from Veritas School was the previous champion at the lower level, but a first-time participant at the seventh- through ninth- grade level.

No matter, Petersen was able to beat out Manteca High freshman Mia Holbrook for the district Spelling Bee crown. She correctly jotted down “sciatica.”

Marissa Scott, who is an eighth-grade student from Brock Elliott School, took third place.

Petersen, Holbrook and Scott will advance to the SJCOE event on Dec. 8.

They were challenged by such words as “concierge,” “treacherous,” “umbrage,” “emolliate,” “posthumous,” and “subservient.”

The key to Petersen’s success was academic.

“I love reading,” she said.