Broad View fifth grader headed to National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

Elisabeth Ince is the second fifth grader from Broad View Elementary School to win the regional spelling bee in as many years.   - Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times
Elisabeth Ince is the second fifth grader from Broad View Elementary School to win the regional spelling bee in as many years.
— image credit: Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

It didn’t matter to Elisabeth Ince that she was a young competitor up against several older students.

It didn’t bother her that she was on a big stage with so much at stake.

Ince, a fifth grader from Broad View Elementary School in Oak Harbor, remained composed as she advanced deep into the Skagit County Regional Spelling Bee in Mount Vernon March 15.

“It was pretty easy,” she said.

Ince, 11, managed to keep her cool through the finish and out-spelled 29 other competitors on her way to the title, which earned her a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

It was the second year in a row that a Broad View fifth grader was crowned regional champion after Trina Desquitado won in 2013.

“That’s because we are a really smart school,” Ince said with a smile.

Ince won by outlasting Oak Harbor Middle School eighth-grader Anna Kate Fahey in 21 rounds at Skagit Valley College’s Phillip Tarro Theatre.

The 36th annual event is contested by students in fourth through eighth grades in Island, Skagit and San Juan counties.

Ince got her big opportunity after Fahey misspelled the word “notochord.”

She had to hold back a smile when the next word announced was “taupe.”

She knew that one.

She spelled it correctly then could let the smile go.

Rhonda Ince, her mother, could finally let go of emotions, too. It was a day of anxious moments and pride for her.

Her son Logan Ince, a seventh grader at North Whidbey Middle School, also was among the five finalists.

“It was pretty cool seeing them sitting together,” Rhonda Ince said. “She was speller No. 1, he was speller No. 2. They were giving each other high-fives. They both worked really hard.”

Still, Elisabeth had little doubt she’d outlast her older brother, who got tripped up on the word “graupel.”

“I thought I was going to beat him because I’m just a better speller than he is,” she said matter-of-factly.

Elisabeth’s confidence in her abilities is something her teacher, Mary Obee, has noticed in her classroom. But she won’t get into the conversation about who’s the better speller in the family.

Obee also had Logan in her fifth-grade class.

“I have to be careful,” she said.

Obee characterized Elisabeth as a “natural speller” and “voracious reader.”

But, she pointed out, that a spelling bee champion can’t rely on that alone.

“In life, it comes to a point where hard work and dedication trumps anything else,” Obee said. “That’s what propelled Elisabeth.”

Elisabeth and a parent earned a free trip to Washington, D.C., for the national event, which takes place May 27-29 and will be televised on ESPN and its sister channels. Her father is 1988 Oak Harbor High School graduate Clarence Ince.

At the nationally-televised event, Elisabeth will be speller No. 269.

“I’m really excited,” she said.

Just earning the title of champion in her own classroom wasn’t a cakewalk for Elisabeth.

Classmate Brenna Richard proved to be an excellent speller and top competitor in the class and school competitions.

By winning the regional spelling bee, Elisabeth received a copy of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. She decided to donate that to her classroom and signed it with a message that read:

“To Mrs. Obee’s class. Go after the big adventures.”

Elisabeth can’t wait to continue hers.


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