Missouri Spelling Bee Runs Out Of Words After Finalists Spell Through Entire List!

By Meera Dolasia on February 26, 2014

CCSS NCSS-1 Word Search

Though there have been many fierce spelling bee contestants, few can claim to have done what two Jackson County, Missouri, finalists did on Saturday, February 22nd, 2014 - Buzz their way through all the words provided by the Scripps National Bee, as well as, twenty others that the judges hastily picked from the latest edition of the Merriam-Websters dictionary, during the short lunch break.

The contest began like any other - Within 19 rounds, the pool of 25 contestants had been whittled down to two finalists - 11-year-old Sophia Hoffman and 13-year-old Kush Sharma. Believing that like previous years, they would be all wrapped up with a winner after an additional six to eight rounds, the judges began to fire away with the toughest words they could find in their arsenal.

But nothing seemed to faze the fifth-grader from Highland Park Elementary school and the 7th grader from the Frontier School of Innovation. Spellings of words such as 'scherzo',' 'fantoccini' and 'intaglio' seemed to just roll off of Kush's tongue. Sophia was no slouch either - she breezed through 'schadenfreude', 'mahout' and 'barukhzy' (afghan hound), as though they were part of her daily vocabulary! They both missed only one word, a French one that was so long that neither can pronounce it!

Four hours and 47 rounds later, the exhausted judges had not only run out of words, but also, energy. The contestants on the other hand seemed to be as animated as they were when the contest began and eager to keep going. Unfortunately, the judges made a decision to continue the contest on March 8th, instead of seeking out more words from the dictionary. That's because they were afraid that in their haste they may pull one that was relatively easy and unwittingly cause one contestant to have an unfair advantage. So for now, both the judges and the contestants have gone back to the drawing board - One to create a new list of challenging words and the other, to prepare for them.

What's amazing is that this is not the only rematch happening this year. A similar standoff occurred in Dekalb County, Illinois, where 13-year old Matthew Rogers and Keith Mokry, kept going for 3.5 hours. In this case, the spelling bee officials did not run out of words. They were all just exhausted and decided to continue the epic battle of words, at a later date.

Since only one contestant from each county is allowed to advance to the finals that will be held in Washington D.C. in May, two kids will eventually be 'defeated' - But in the eyes of the world, they are already winners!

Resources: cnn.com, latimes.com, stltoday.com

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animatedarsenalfantoccinifazeintagliomahoutrelativelyschadenfreudescherzounwittinglywhittled
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  1. How long did the contest between the two finalists last in Jackson County?
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359 Comments
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  • awesomeWednesday, February 17, 2016 at 12:17 pm
    i won district 1 time
    • syeda123
      syeda123Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 11:53 pm
      Amazing!!! 😦😯😦
      • kittylover101
        kittylover101Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 2:03 pm
        wow, even I am not that smart
        • syeda123
          syeda123Wednesday, October 21, 2015 at 11:58 pm
          Same, I wish I could though
        • eggsta
          eggstaTuesday, June 2, 2015 at 2:41 am
          Really!? they are soo smart XD
          • 04vamossWednesday, April 1, 2015 at 10:23 am
            so cool
            • diamondkid
              diamondkidThursday, February 26, 2015 at 5:09 pm
              Wow!
              • McKenzieThursday, February 26, 2015 at 3:19 pm
                :)
                • McKenzieThursday, February 26, 2015 at 3:17 pm
                  Hi 1) 4 hours. 2) The judges asked them words from the dictionary. 3) Because the judges ran out of words and got very tired.
                  • syeda123
                    syeda123Thursday, October 22, 2015 at 12:01 am
                    I'm pretty sure people already know that😐😐😊
                  • churMonday, February 23, 2015 at 5:34 pm
                    so smart make me look bad
                    • yrivera120
                      yrivera120Friday, February 13, 2015 at 11:51 pm
                      Wow!!!!!! 66 rounds I'm impressed with Sophia Hoffman and Kush Sharma. I believe that's their name. Way to go you two!!!!!!!👍

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