Niwot 7th grader headed to spelling championship

90th Scripps National Spelling Bee
Posted at 6:14 AM, May 31, 2017

LONGMONT, Colo. -- 12-year-old Ben Lenger loves making paper airplanes and model rockets. And he’s pretty good at spelling, too. The 7th grader at Sunset Middle School in Longmont won this year's Barnes and Noble Boulder Regional Spelling Bee.

He gives some of the credit to his mom.

"She used to be an English teacher so she sometimes gets quite pedantic about grammar and spelling," Lenger said.

But Ben says he’s a little surprised that he'll be representing Colorado in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this week. He wasn't expecting to win at regionals, where he beat the winner from the past two years in a row, Cameron Keith.

"I studied about 25 percent harder, but it was really mostly luck," Ben said.

Since winning regionals, Ben has been studying word lists, as well as word origins and roots. His mom helps him study. Audrey Lenger says even though spelling isn't Ben's primary passion, he's expected to prepare for the national bee.

"It's important to me and to our family that he does study for it, really out respect for the people who didn't make it because they were just as deserving," she said.

Ben is studying hard, but he's keeping his expectations in check.

"When I'm not expecting to win I don't get too nervous," he said.

Ben is a well-rounded kid who plays viola and baseball in addition to studying for spelling bees. And since he has a passion for aeronautics, he is particularly excited to visit the National Air and Space Museum when he travels to Washington D.C. this week. 

Ben is representing Colorado in the Scripps National Spelling Bee along with Faith Baca, an 8th grader from Aurora.