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WMS claims top team title at Southwest MN Spelling Bee

The Worthington Middle School team placed first (out of nine schools) in the team competition at Saturday’s Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee in Slayton. From left are sixth-graders Jeanette Juarez, Hannah Barrie, Payton Sauerbrei (third place individual finisher), Katie O’Donnell and Bryce Olsen. WMS seventh-grader Davis Moore, (far right) was the 2013 bee champion. Submitted Photo

SLAYTON — A spectacular sampling of student spellers from Worthington Middle School (WMS) came out on top and clinched the team title in Saturday’s Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee at Murray County Central’s West Elementary School.

Individual spelling champion was Logan Kooistra of Jackson, and runner-up was Jayda Castaway of Round Lake/Brewster, although three out of the five WMS team members made it into the top 11— Payton Sauerbrei, who finished in third place, along with Jeanette Juarez and Bryce Olsen.

The final five was complete with Ryan Fauglid of Windom (fourth) and Hope Stanton of Round Lake/Brewster (fifth).

Other WMS teammates adding to the school’s winning total were Hannah Barrie and Katie O’Donnell.

In all, 45 fifth- and sixth-grade students from Edgerton, Fulda, Hills-Beaver Creek, Jackson County Central (second place team slot), Round Lake/Brewster, Westbrook/Walnut Grove, Windom and WMS participated in the morning-long spelling contest, which was coordinated by MCC teacher Mark Schleisman.

Following a 35-word written test, which included words such as “acquire,” “judicial,” “dependent,” “photographer” and “saliva,” 11 students advanced to oral competition.

Five words —“campaign,” “morale,” “mortgage,” “ineligible” and “bouquet” — then determined the top five contestants.

In the final oral round, some of the students were tripped up by “levee,” “aerial,” “porpoise” and “portrayal,” but Kooistra persisted, correctly spelling “grammatical” and “presence” to claim the 2014 champion spot.

Other spellers in the top 11 were Lauren DeJong of Edgerton, Jocelyn Tillman of JCC, and Samantha Larson and Carter Kresko of MCC.

Also in attendance as a bee assistant and awards presenter was the 2013 Southwest Minnesota Spelling Bee champion, WMS seventh-grader Davis Moore.

WMS spelling bee coordinators and spelling team coaches are Paula Wolyniec and Hollie Hibma. The 2014 WMS spelling team was comprised of the top five finishers in the WMS bee of late February, which Barrie won.