It took over an hour and a sturdy knowledge of the English dictionary, but in the end, Trent Beyers took first place in the Corn Palace Regional Spelling Bee Saturday afternoon at the Corrigan Health Science Center on the campus of Dakota Wesleyan University.
Beyers, 11, who attends Edmunds Central in Roscoe, successfully spelled the word “extinguish” to claim first place in the contest over 18 other entrants. He will move on to compete against the winners in other Scripps regional competitions held in Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Vermillion and Watertown.
The top three contestants from each regional advances to the USD Scripps Spelling Bee in Vermillion where the state’s best spellers compete at USD to determine who will represent the state at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
As the competition neared its end, Beyers admitted he was a little stressed.
“I got really nervous,” Beyers said following the contest. “I didn’t know if I would win or not.”
It took several rounds and over an hour for Beyers to establish himself as the winner of the competition. While Beyers spelled enough words correctly to take the prize, many other competitors fell short on a variety of words, including “prejudice,” corgi,” “pilferer,” “jamboree” and “tarmac.”
Beyers, who said he works on his spelling by looking up new words he doesn’t know and learning to spell them. He said he would continue to apply that strategy as he prepares for the contest in Vermillion next month.
“Yeah, probably this time,” Beyers said when asked if he intended to study for the competition. “Whenever I see a word I don’t know, I look it up.”
After Beyers eliminated the competition, a tiebreaker was held between the remaining competitors who were still eligible for first place. The two other spellers who came through that tiebreaker to advance to the state contest in Vermillion were Araya Fallis of Crow Creek Tribal School and Eddie Duffy of Stanley County Elementary.
Craig Kelly, one of the organizers of the regional event and the word pronouncer for the competition, said nearly 100 students gathered at the DWU campus to take part in the Corn Palace Regional Spelling Bee as well as the Mitchell Spelling Bees, which were held on campus earlier in the day.
“We had 18 spellers (in the Corn Palace Regional) and 99 were scheduled to show up for the other contests,” Kelly said. “At the same time this contest was happening, we had an all-grades championship from our other tournament system happening upstairs.”
It was a busy day of competition and cross-checking for the judges, as well. While Kelly was assisting with the various contests, Linda Farney, a former longtime organizer for the spelling bee, was looking on from the audience.
She noted that as the words get more difficult to spell, those reading those words have to be on their toes to give the students an accurate pronunciation and any relevant information on the word that may be useful.
“(It gets difficult), especially with the Scripps words that you have to use, and their rules,” Farney said following the regional Scripps contest. “Years ago when I had to be the pronouncer I would look at the words, and I’d say wait a minute, I’m not sure what these are, how am I supposed to be able to pronounce them?”
While Beyers said he knew he had the win in the bag when he heard his final word, competing at the state level will be a new challenge that he looks forward to, even though he may have to shake off a case of nerves.
“I’m nervous about it,” Beyers said with a smile.
Winners from the other spelling bees held at DWU Saturday included:
Lyrik Strand, L.B. Williams, 1st; Titus Sevigny, Gertie Belle Rogers, 2nd.
Ryan Driscoll, L.B. Williams, 1st; Isaac Soulek, Parkston, 2nd; Ben Anderson, Gertie Belle Rogers, 3rd.
Blade Cline, Longfellow, 1st; Cassidy Korzan, John Paul II, 2nd; Alivia King, L.B. Williams, 3rd.
Jalen Thomas, Ethan, 1st; Harlie Fuegen, Kimball, 2nd; Peyton Denning, Corsica-Stickney, 3rd.
Corbin Brunsen, Plankinton, 1st; Saylor Lefers, Corsica-Stickney, 2nd; Wayne Roach, St. Joseph’s School, 3rd.
Avery Mueller, Ethan, 1st; Mason Barhart, S.B., 2nd; Jane Kelly, home school, 3rd.