The congratulations of “outstanding” and “great job” went to both student competitors after 32 rounds of spelling at their best. Wadena-Deer Creek eighth grader Chloe Leeseberg and sixth grader Noah Drange finished the trend with the word “irreversible” with a win for Leeseberg.

If you mustache Leeseberg how she feels about the second straight win, she says, “Proud of myself.” While “irreversible” moved Leeseberg one edge ahead of Drange, the winning word was “mustache.”

The final spellings: Watch Leeseberg and Drange go 19 rounds

The 16 qualifying students in grades 5-8 competed in Robertson Theatre on Jan. 25 with audience members watching virtually, even family and friends. One of the family members who helped Chloe prepare was her dad Curt Leeseberg. The two would sit at their dining room table with lists of words and keep going until Chloe spelt each word correctly.

She feels the “really, really hard” studying “paid off,” instead of winning by luck last year with what she said were easy words. In her third year competing and with a second win, Leeseberg again said her words weren’t particularly challenging though that doesn’t mean words fellow students faced were easy.

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“I think the spelling bee is really a good way for younger people to improve their spelling more because a lot of people now days misspell things really often and this is just ... a funner way to get people to correct those,” Leeseberg said.

Leeseberg won with the word "mustache."
Dana Cantleberry/WDC Schools
Leeseberg won with the word "mustache." Dana Cantleberry/WDC Schools

Up next for Leeseberg is the virtual regional spelling bee with students from schools in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties on March 24.

The students who qualified for the WDC spelling bee included:

  • 5th grade: Celia Rinio, Mackenzie Schaefer and Brennan Simmons

  • 6th grade: McKenna Bauch, Sam Church, Noah Drange, Ava Hall, Karly Haverkamp, Brielle Kern and Mari Koone

  • 7th grade: Madison Buchanan, McKenna Dunbar, Phoenix Gray and Lily Peterson

  • 8th grade: Elsie Anderson, Megan Hamelau, Jaden Jensen, Jadyn Larson and Chloe Leeseberg