W-i-n-n-e-r-s: After regional spelling bee, eight spellers will advance to U.P. Finals

L’ANSE – Eight Copper Country spellers will head to the U.P. Finals next month after Wednesday’s regional bee in L’Anse.

Finishing in first and second, respectively were: fifth-graders Chloe Borree of Houghton Elementary School and Elijah Packard of Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School in Hancock; sixth-graders Micaela Geborkoff of Houghton Middle School and Lowell Torola of Washington Middle School in Calumet, seventh-graders Zander Worm of Washington and Theodore Hrabinsky of Dollar Bay Tamarack City Middle School; and eighth-graders Shweta Pati of Houghton and Jake Lang of Hancock Middle School.

After coming down to four students, the fifth-grade bee took 25 words to come down to the final three, and another 24 to leave Borree and Packard. Borree won her bee after the 27th round, correctly spelling “kinesiology” and “amine” for the win – the 130th and 131st words of the bee

Borree practiced about a half-hour every day. First, she asked the words to her mom, who then spelled them. Then she did the same.

“I’m very nervous, and I hope that I can advance,” she said.

The longest bee of the day was in sixth grade, where Geborkoff won after 163 words, spelling “anastomosis” and “beguine.” The final five spellers of the bee also had the longest sustained stretch without a miss Wednesday – 43 words between “sabotage” in the seventh round and “unmitigable” in the 16th.

Gerborkoff’s daily practice took a similar form, with her mother reading out the words and her spelling them. She also advanced to the U.P. Finals in fifth grade after finishing second in the regional bee.

“I wanted to improve some more,” she said.

The seventh-grade spellers nearly outlasted them, going 159 words before Worm won with “philomel” and “epistemology.”

Worm returns to the U.P. Finals, which he won last year, earning a trip to Washington, D.C. for the national bee.

“It’s pretty nice,” he said. “Pretty close, lot of good spellers. Very easy to lose.”

He said the past experience helps him prepare.

“Just basically memorization if you can, and getting used to words,” he said.

Pati, last year’s second-place finisher in the U.P. Finals, earned another trip, spelling “janiform” and “nexus” for the 97th and 98th words of the eighth-grade bee.

She prepares by reviewing the word list and reading.

“Sometimes as I read novels, there are hard words and I look them up,” she said. “Other times, our school does vocabulary stuff. I guess I read a lot.”

As with Worm, Pati’s prior bees have helped her tailor her training.

“I’ve learned that the stump list is really hard in the U.P. Finals, so you have to really prepare for those,” she said.