Marathon spelling bee finally ends - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Marathon spelling bee finally ends

Posted: Updated:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - A marathon spelling bee between two Kansas City-area students who exhausted the initial word list last month ended after 29 more rounds Saturday when the eventual runner-up stumbled over the word "stifling."

For more than an hour, seventh-grader Kush Sharma and fifth-grader Sophia Hoffman went toe-to-toe in the continuation of the Jackson County Spelling Bee, which began two weeks ago but had to be extended after the two breezed through the word list provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee, then 20 more words picked out of the dictionary.

The contestants had no problem correctly spelling words like "boodle" and "slobber," often asking the moderator for a word's origin, definition or part of speech. But at the end of the 28th round, Sophia appeared puzzled when attempting to spell "stifling," and even more so when the bell rang to indicate she had gotten it wrong.

Following a lengthy break to listen to audio of the round to make sure Sophia had heard the word correctly, the judges ruled that she had misspelled it, meaning Kush could claim the title if he correctly spelled his word in the 29th round.

After being given his final word, "definition," Kush drew chuckles from spectators watching from a different room in the Kansas City Public Library when he asked for the definition. He promptly spelled it correctly and won the bee.

The end of the match brought to a close a whirlwind two weeks for Kush, a student at Frontier School of Innovation in Kansas City, and Sophia, a Highland Park Elementary School student in the Kansas City suburb of Lee's Summit.

Three days after they finished in a tie on Feb. 22, both of their families were flown to New York to make appearances on CNN and "Good Morning America." The two said they had become close friends because of the experience.

"I was pretty sad when she got that word incorrect," said Kush, who now moves on to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May. "That's the game, you know? It's going to come down to one person, whether you're friends or not."

Sophia said she was excited that she made it so far in the bee and that she planned to compete again next year. Kush said he, too, would be back, and he wouldn't be surprised if the two dueled even longer next year.

Mark Hoffman, Sophia's father, called his daughter a tough kid who gained a lot from the competition despite the emotionally upsetting conclusion.

"I think it is part of the growth of the kids to learn how to work through disappointment and come out stronger," he said.

  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • Entrepreneurial spirit at the Latino Fest

    Entrepreneurial spirit at the Latino Fest

    Saturday, August 30 2014 12:55 PM EDT2014-08-30 16:55:09 GMT
    The Latino Fest has a strong 20 year tradition on the banks of the Maumee River, celebrating local hispanic culture with great food. You expect to grab tacos, tamales, nachos and rice and beans. And you expect to hear some great music. And Mexicans living in this region can also expect to get some help.
    The Latino Fest has a strong 20 year tradition on the banks of the Maumee River, celebrating local hispanic culture with great food. You expect to grab tacos, tamales, nachos and rice and beans. And you expect to hear some great music. And Mexicans living in this region can also expect to get some help.
  • TPD: Serial robber strikes again, suspect at large

    TPD: Serial robber strikes again, suspect at large

    Saturday, August 30 2014 10:44 AM EDT2014-08-30 14:44:05 GMT
    A man wanted by police in a series of robberies may have struck again.Overnight, Toledo police say someone held up the "In and Out" mart on the 1600 block of West Sylvania.Investigators identified the suspect as Jonathan Reed, 39, who is wanted in at least seven other recent robberies.According to a police report, Reed entered the store and brought a small box of candy to the counter.When the clerk rang it up and opened the register, the report states "Reed lunged over the counter and grabbed...
    A man wanted by police in a series of robberies may have struck again.Overnight, Toledo police say someone held up the "In and Out" mart on the 1600 block of West Sylvania.Investigators identified the suspect as Jonathan Reed, 39, who is wanted in at least seven other recent robberies.According to a police report, Reed entered the store and brought a small box of candy to the counter.When the clerk rang it up and opened the register, the report states "Reed lunged over the counter and grabbed...
  • Train hits empty car, deputies search for driver

    Train hits empty car, deputies search for driver

    Saturday, August 30 2014 8:23 AM EDT2014-08-30 12:23:39 GMT
    New details this morning from a train crash we first told you about Friday night on 13abc Action News at eleven o'clock.A cargo train hit an empty car that was stopped on the tracks, just south of Bradner.This happened on Bradner Road near the Greensburg Pike in Montgomery Township.No one on the train was hurt.The crash prompted a search for the driver or whoever was inside of that car.Overnight, Wood County Deputies said they were using thermal imaging cameras to find any people in the dark ...
    New details this morning from a train crash we first told you about Friday night on 13abc Action News at eleven o'clock.A cargo train hit an empty car that was stopped on the tracks, just south of Bradner.This happened on Bradner Road near the Greensburg Pike in Montgomery Township.No one on the train was hurt.The crash prompted a search for the driver or whoever was inside of that car.Overnight, Wood County Deputies said they were using thermal imaging cameras to find any people in the dark ...

Area Events Calendar

See It, Shoot It, Send It!