Anna Lobmeyer comes from a long line of excellent spellers, and in front of a crowd of more than 100 gathered Saturday at the Garden City High School auditorium, she kept the family tradition alive.

After four rounds and the elimination of all but two of the 45 elementary and middle school children competing in the annual Finney County Spelling Bee, Lobmeyer, a Horace Good Middle School seventh-grader, found herself going head-to-head with Kenneth Henderson Middle School eighth-grader Alicia Montoya.

Lobmeyer and Montoya each correctly spelled two words, before Montoya misspelled "pavilion," getting tripped up on the single "l." That gave Lobmeyer the opening she needed, and after correctly spelling "lynx," she was the last speller standing.

“It’s very exciting,” Lobmeyer said about finally winning the local bee in her third attempt and after having finished third last year. “I’ve never won before. On my mom’s side, they are all really good at spelling. And my aunt won the county spelling bee five times, and I’m happy to finally win.”

This was also Montoya’s third time competing in the county spelling bee. She also made appearances when she was in the second and fourth grades.

“I didn’t seem as pressured as before,” she said. “It wasn’t that bad.”

By claiming the top two spots in the local bee, Lobmeyer and Montoya have both qualified for the Regional Spelling Bee, which will take place March 3 at Fort Hays State University.

And if either of them can't compete in Hays in March, Jerry Serrano, a sixth-grader from Abe Hubert Elementary School, will be ready to fill in as the first alternate. He earned that spot by correctly spelling "gargoyle" and beating out the six other contestants who were eliminated in the fourth round.

“It’s really incredible,” Serrano said of his first time experiencing the county spelling bee. “I didn’t expect to get this far.”

Roxanna Reed, elementary gifted facilitator for Garden City Public Schools, was one of three judges who checked the spelling and made sure the rules were followed.

“They did really, really well,” Reed said of the contestants. “The students worked hard. They were well prepared.”

Reed said the purpose of the spelling bee is for the participants to have a good time and to develop language skills.

“I think it’s the love of words and vocabulary the spelling bee encourages,” she said.