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Libby seventh-grader wins county bee

| March 6, 2007 11:00 PM

By GWEN ALBERS Western News Reporter

Robin Kyes felt somewhat torn after winning last Thursday's Lincoln County Spelling Bee in Libby.

By correctly spelling "condor" and "azure," the Libby seventh-grader qualified for the state bee in Butte on March 31. That's also the same weekend he planned to participate in the Montana Open wrestling tournament in Bozeman.

While wrestling is his passion and spelling is something that comes natural, Robin said Monday he's leaning toward the spelling bee.

"It's a once in a lifetime chance," he said.

His mother, Penny Kyes, has other thoughts. She and husband Frank are willing to drive the 75 miles between the state bee in Butte and wrestling match in Bozeman so he can do both.

"If we knew the times, he may be able to go to both," Penny Kyes said. "It only depends on how well he does at wrestling and how well he does at spelling. Frank and I are up for the adventure."

Robin spelled both words correctly to win the county bee after Eureka Elementary student Ruxandra Ionescu misspelled the word "patriarch." Should Robin choose the wrestling tournament, Ruxandra would be his fill-in in Butte.

Traditionally, students who win the county spelling bee don't miss the chance to go to the state bee, said Marge Kroeger, a guidance counselor at Libby Middle School.

It's not rare for a student to have a conflict, Kroeger said.

"I'm not surprised," she said.

For Penny Kyes, it's a no brainer. She understands her son can win up to $1,000 in the state bee and would qualify for nationals.

"If he goes to Washington, D.C., I get to go," she said.

She attributes her son's success at spelling to reading, yet realizes wrestling is his thing.

A wrestler since age 4, Robin spends two hours daily practicing. During last weekend's 2007 Kootenai Klassic in Libby, he placed fourth in the 120-pound class.

Last year was Robin's first trip to the two-day Montana Open. He loved it.

"It's one of my favorites," he said. "It has more towns than we usually see."

As for the rest of the county spelling bee, Alyssa Stoekley from Eureka Junior High and Allia Hoisington from McCormick Elementary tied for third place.

Troy was represented by Sara Helmrick, Jessica Smith Allyssa Gragel and Bruce Metz. Sylvanite School had Jolee Holder competing.

Others from Libby were Max Ewing, Anthony Dewey, Sam Swapinski, Buster Barnett, Chelsea Bowe, Mitchell Postlethwaite and Alyssa Nelson.

Kelsey Hammond and Kendra Chupp represented Eureka Junior High. Kathryn Stein came from Eureka Elementary, Courtney Garrison, from Fortine Elementary; Mikki Richard from Trego Elementary; and Michael Moxley from Kootenai Valley Christian School.