The family of Victor and Karen Huber seems to be starting a spelling dynasty in Utah.
Fourteen-year-old Colleen Huber, from Vernal Junior High, won Friday's Deseret News Spelling Bee - just a year after her younger sister Tara took the state championship.And they're not the only competitors in the family. Ten-year-old Erin finished second behind Colleen at the district contest three weeks ago.
The girls' dad was Hanson County, S.D., spelling champ in 1956, and their mom was a runner-up in the Charles Mix County, S.D., spelling bee.
Colleen won a trip to the National Spelling Bee May 28-June 3 after Chris Thorpe, 12, from San Rafael Junior High in Orangeville, put an "o" where the "a" belongs in "maricolous."
Colleen spelled that word and followed up with the correct spelling of "adactylous" to clinch the state title. The audience at Eisenhower Junior High School immediately stood to applaud both contestants.
Third-place winner Brian Wikle, 13, from Monticello, was a tough competitor as well, dropping out only two words earlier on the word "alegar."
Colleen said she was a little more nervous before the state contest than before the district competition, "but as the end started coming I was calmer here."
She had prepared by going over the state word list with her dad two to three hours a day for the past three weeks.
"I have sort of a photographic memory," she said.
Mrs. Huber said she leaves most of the final coaching to her husband. "I drop out when it gets down to the nitty gritty, because I get too nervous."
Colleen and her father went through the official contest dictionary - Webster's Third New International Dictionary - checking not only definitions but alternate pronunciations.
So she wasn't fooled by something that tripped up more than one speller Friday - several words that many people would pronounce with a "t" sound are listed instead with a "d" sound in the contest pronunciation guide.
Such words as "mortar," "buttermilk," "servitor," "oximeter," "ricotta" and "heretical" have no "t" in their pronunciation, according to the guide provided to pronouncer Beverly Cook.
Cook said Chris Thorpe also noticed the difference and asked her about it during a break.
Cook confessed to giving some of the "t-d" words more of a "t" pronunciation than the guide indicated, because she wanted the kids to have every chance to spell the words right.