Liesel Keel spelled "amateur" correctly to become the Douglas County spelling bee champion over the weekend.
Keel, an eighth-grader at Central Junior High School, will advance to the state spelling bee to be held April 1 in Topeka. She was the top speller Saturday among 111 Douglas County fifth- through eighth-graders who competed at Baldwin Junior High School.
Eric Leuthold, an eighth-grader at South Junior High School, was the runner-up. He missed in the final round on the word "eligible."
Liesel has competed in the bee for three years, and this was her first victory. She said she was surprised to find herself in position to win.
"I don't know what I was thinking. I was scared," she said.
She plans to study a newspaper containing the words that will be used at the state contest. Her mother quizzes her, she said.
"She wanted me to win," Liesel said.