It took 20 tense rounds to whittle the competition down to just two epic spellers Monday night at the Robertson Theatre at Wadena-Deer Creek Middle/High School.

Seventh-grader Chloe Leeseberg was the one speller that made it through to the end without a misspelling. Chloe, the daughter of Curt and Keri Leeseberg, will advance to the regional Spelling Bee on March 25 at Sourcewell in Staples.

Neck and neck with Chloe all along the way was Noah Drange, who came in second only after slipping on a word (futurist), which was not from the student list of studied words. After the first 20 rounds, students had used up the words from a list they were able to study and judges had to move to another list that students didn't have a chance to review. While those words started out rather easy, they steadily increased in difficulty. Chloe took the top place after correctly spelling "external."

Chloe said she spent a small amount of time studying, about a half hour the night before and some on the bus ride home. It seems spelling words just comes naturally.

"So far this year I don't think I've gotten anything wrong on my spelling tests," Chloe said. "It's just something, I can see it and I'll know if it's wrong."

When asked about the feeling of being the spelling bee champion and the opportunity to move on, Chloe said she's looking forward to it.

"I'm very excited and nervous too," she said.

Students that qualified for the WDC spelling bee included McKenna Brauch, Corabeth Curtis, Noah Drange, McKenna Dunbar, Ava Hall, Karly Haverkamp, Chloe Leeseberg, Isabelle Lehmkuhl, Julia Lunde, Amara Neuerberg, Kelanie Oldakowski, Lily Peterson, Adam Plautz, Ryann Schmidt, Noelle Spicer and Isabell Wiegand.

In other words

You might be surprised to know students correctly spelled words like incomprehensible, Haitian, Himalayan, rabble-rouser and synaesthesia.