A fifth grade student from Rena Elementary School will represent Crawford County at the state spelling bee.

Christian Woodward was named champion after correctly spelling “haversack” in the sixth round of what was his first county spelling bee competition on Jan. 28 at the Alma Performing Arts Center.

“The words in the first round of this year’s bee were very difficult,” said Jami Anne Balkman, Crawford County Spelling Bee coordinator. “‘Charismatic,’ ‘venerable,’ ‘stratagems,’ ‘prodigious’ and ‘affectionately’ were included in the list of words contestants were asked to spell.”

Additionally, students had to identify the correct definition or use of a word in the vocabulary round, making this year’s bee “very challenging,” Balkman said.

Christian beat out 61 other contestants from 16 area schools. He is the son of Jeff Woodward and Trey and Taylor Tounzen.

After Christian was named the winner, the bee continued with a spell-off to award the runner-up title and prize.

Clayton John Buchanan Jr., an eighth grade student at Mountainburg Middle School, continued spelling through round 20 against Jillian Mills, a seventh grade student from Alma Middle School, to be named the first runner-up.

Clayton will represent Crawford County in the state bee in the event that Christian is unable to attend. Clayton is the son of C. John Buchanan Sr.

Peggy Pierson with Generations Bank, which sponsored the event, presented Christian and Clayton with their gift cards and trophies.

Generations Bank also provides T-shirts for all contestants and aids the winner’s family with travel expenses to the Arkansas State Spelling Bee.

“We are blessed in Crawford County to have such a gracious sponsor,” Balkman said. “Generations Bank supports our spellers all the way through the state bee. Not many other bees in the area have that kind of community support.”

The 2017 Arkansas State Spelling Bee will be held in the Harper E. Cooper Educational Complex on the Central Bible College campus in Conway on March 4.

State bee winners go on to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Officials for the 2017 county bee included Ronnie Newton, Alma School Board member, who served as the announcer; and Sondra Friend, literacy interventionist, and Michael Hensley, Alma High School English teacher, who served as judges.