ROCK SPRINGS — The stage for victory may have been set around the dinner table and during family time.
That’s when Teilah Guerrero’s family members would get out the practice packet and choose from the 4,000 words there for Teilah to try and spell. Her dad Ray Guerrero said when he didn’t know how to pronounce the word, he would get help from a computer. Teilah spelled most of them correctly.
Teilah’s success at home transferred into actual competition at the Sweetwater County Spelling Bee on Feb. 7 at Western Wyoming Community College. The sixth-grader from Eastside Elementary won the spelling bee even though it was her first time competing.
It wasn’t easy, Teilah said. The spelling bee lasted more than four hours, and seats became uncomfortable after awhile. Teilah was most nervous about the written rounds, but getting put on the spot in the oral rounds was difficult as well.
“It made you forget what what you were doing,” she said.
Nevertheless, Teilah persevered and was surprised to learn that she had won, missing only one word out of 10 in the final round. She not only earned a trophy and medallion for winning, but also received a one-year scholarship to Western. To celebrate, Teilah’s mom took her to McDonald’s, and her dad bought flowers.
Teilah’s work isn’t done. Now, there are even more words to practice. Teilah is preparing to represent Sweetwater County at the Wyoming State Spelling Bee in March at Western. She will be joined by Christian J. McCartney and Ashton Kelsey. Christian, a sixth-grader from Lincoln Middle School, finished in second place. Third place went to Ashton, an eighth-grade student at Rock Springs Junior High.
Teilah’s dad told her that if she finishes in the top three at state competition, he will buy a new four-wheeler for Teilah and the family to enjoy.
”So now the pressure is on,” he said.
Armed with a new, larger practice packet, Teilah is once again spelling words during dinner and family times. She gets a star next to the ones spelled correctly and a minus sign by the ones she misses. Then she can study and try again. Teilah has some extra time on her hands these days, too. Her basketball season is over due to a leg injury, and softball season hasn’t started yet.
Teilah said she’s a little nervous about the Wyoming Spelling Bee. The only other time she’s been in front of the public is at band concerts playing her trumpet and at dance recitals. No matter how she does at state competition, though Teilah’s family is already proud of her and what she has accomplished so far.