10-year-old Elena Williams of Deming hung with winner 13-year-old Abigail Spitzer of El Paso for 13 rounds before misspelling "mandir" the Hindu name for a place of worship or prayer.
Spitzer has won the regional bee for the third year in a row. Williams placed 13th last year. The competition featured nearly 180 top spellers from the region. The El Paso Times reported that tears filled Elena's eyes while she stood on stage after the award ceremony. Elena said she was not really good at spelling but just liked to read a lot. She said the contest was really hard and she knew Spitzer was going to do a great job in D-C -- referring to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D-C, from May 27th to June 1st. Elena is the daughter of Trevor and Marlena Williams of Deming.