This story was updated at 9:25 a..m. for the correct spelling of chipotle

PORTLAND – With a slow, steady pace, Lily Jordan enunciated each letter of 15 words she was given to spell during Saturday’s Maine State Spelling Bee.

In the final round, the eighth-grade Cape Elizabeth Middle School student repeated the pronouncer and paused before giving her answer.

“R-O-T-U-N-D-A. Rotunda,” Jordan said.

“That’s correct,” head judge Michael Ashmore said, as the crowd of more than 200 family members, teachers and friends applauded Jordan’s win.

For the second year, Jordan was dubbed champion of the Maine State Spelling Bee, sponsored by NextGen and hosted by MaineToday Media Inc., which publishes The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, the Kennebec Journal in Augusta and Morning Sentinel in Waterville, the weekly Coastal Journal in Bath and their respective Web sites.

Jordan competed against 15 other middle school-aged students from each county in the state for the chance to represent Maine at the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee in June.

“I’m sad,” because this is her last year to compete in the bee, Jordan said, “but happy to go back (to Washington, D.C.) this year.”

Words like “sultan,” “begonia,” “rucksack,” and “igneous” tripped up competitors early in the bee. By the third round, eight of the 16 spellers were eliminated including the youngest, Junie Nelson, a fifth-grade Harpswell student from Woodside Elementary School.

Ashmore, grants officer for the Maine Commission for Community Service, returned this year as head judge for the Maine bee.

“The hardest thing is when you go out on your first word, because you’ve built up to this point,” Ashmore said.

He told the participants prior to Saturday’s bee to congratulate themselves for getting this far.

For six rounds, Jordan battled it out with Michaela Wright, a seventh-grader at Rockland District Middle School; Eva Marie Olson, an eighth-grader at Islesboro Central School; and Jackson Vail, a seventh-grader at Medomak Middle School in Waldoboro.

Words like “Fletcherism,” “kahuna,” “roughhewn,” and “formidable” really tested their skills as spellers.

For each word, Vail asked for a definition before jumping into spelling the word.

“Chipotle, like the hot sauce?” he asked in round nine, and with good spirits he saluted the audience when he was eliminated three rounds later.

Wright was ultimately the runner-up after misspelling “analysis.”

“I thought about it and wasn’t sure,” she said. “I went with the wrong answer.”

Jordan said she asked for definitions and the etymology of the words, mostly to give herself time to think.

“I tried to go as slow as possible and ask a lot of questions, because it calms me down,” she said.

Her father, Glenn Jordan, who is a reporter for The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, said he and his wife, Nancy, have been helping Lily prepare for the bee every night before bed.

As she heads to the national bee, she said, “my goal is to make it into the semifinals,” which she did not do last year.

That means having to complete a written exam and two rounds of oral spelling to make it into the top 50 of over 250 spellers gathering in Washington, D.C., in June — and certainly more bedtime spelling reviews in Jordan’s future.

Staff Writer Emma Bouthillette can be contacted at 791-6325 or at:

[email protected]