After a whirlwind of spelling bee days, the results all came down to a tiebreaker. In the end, Menahga sixth-grader Greta Alajoki was named champion with Wadena-Deer Creek eighth-grader Chloe Leeseberg as runner-up.

School spelling bee winners from area districts competed in the virtual 2021 Regional Spelling Bee, hosted by Sourcewell. Students had 30 minutes to spell 50 words, ones that were difficult and challenging. Leeseberg was prepared and calm, as WDC's spelling bee coordinator Lori Grendahl said.

After the first regional competition, Leeseberg and Alajoki tied for the top student spellers in the region. On March 25, the spelling re-started in a 15-minute virtual spelling bee with 25 words. Once again, many of the words had Latin or Greek origins and challenged both spellers.

Leeseberg said she spent hours studying words by researching their country of origin, their pronunciation and definition.

Leeseberg finished as first runner-up.

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"I'm so proud of her!" Grendahl said. "She’s poured her heart and soul into these words and the spelling bee. This was her goal and she competed for three years for WDC. Congratulations, Chloe!"

Alajoki moves on to compete June 27 in the semifinals, which determines the top students to advance to finals at the July 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Orlando.

The top three regional finishers were:

  • Champion – Greta Alajoki, sixth grade, Menahga
  • Runner-up – Chloe Leeseberg, eighth grade, Wadena-Deer Creek
  • 2nd runner-up – Arabella Moore, eighth grade, Staples-Motley

Each year, Sourcewell hosts the Regional Spelling Bee. For 2021, the Scripps National Spelling Bee developed a virtual platform for schools and sponsors that allowed bees to be held safely and securely via online tests. Each participant in the regional bee was a finalist in his or her respective district and was given a 24-hour window to complete the 30-minute regional bee exam, according to a Sourcewell news release.

The finals will be broadcast live on ESPN2 platforms July 8.

Regional spelling bee participants include:

  • Mariana Hansel, Gr 6, Bertha-Hewitt
  • Beverly Rentz, Gr 6, Holy Trinity, Little Falls
  • Myla Ballou, Gr 5, Mary of Lourdes, Little Falls
  • Ben Henry, Gr 8, Mary of Lourdes, Little Falls
  • Mariesa Schutz, Gr 7, Mary of Lourdes, Little Falls
  • Greta Alajoki, Gr 6, Menahga
  • Grant Sclagel, Gr 6, Pequot Lakes
  • Autumn Hecker, Gr 8, Pequot Lakes
  • Hunter Woidyla, Gr 8, Pillager
  • Violette Metz, Gr 7, Pillager
  • Shaunn Reyes, Gr 6, Pine River-Backus
  • Kate Hoheisel, Gr 5, Pierz
  • Alex Rybaski, Gr 6, Pierz
  • William Rausch, Gr 5, Royalton
  • Allee Roberts, Gr 8, Sebeka
  • Arabella Moore, Gr 8, Staples-Motley
  • Emma Kurowski, Gr 8, Swanville
  • Chole Leeseberg, Gr 8, Wadena-Deer Creek