Two Jackson County students who went toe-to-toe for 66 rounds in the county's annual spelling bee aren't quite finished after event organizers ran out of words for the contest.
Out of the 25 competitors, 23 were out after 19 rounds on Saturday.
From there, fifth-grader Sophie Hoffman of Highland Park Elementary in Lee's Summit and Kush Sharma, a seventh-grader at Frontier School of Innovation in Kansas City, buzzed through the list of words provided by the national bee and 20 others plucked from the dictionary.
"It was really fun because we both had lots of words and they were all challenging," Sophie said.
At about 2 p.m. - five hours after the contest started - bee officials decided not to pull more words from the dictionary and instead decided to continue the competition on March 8. After exhausting the 300 words approved by the competition, the two students next month will face the possibility of getting any word in the dictionary.
The winner will represent the county in the national tournament in Washington, DC.
The two students can rattle off the correct spellings of the dozens of words they dealt with correctly on Saturday.
Kush said he certainly felt the pressure.
"It's really nerve-wracking," he said. "You don't want to slop up at that moment and you're also just paying attention real close if your opponent would slip up."
Sophie at least had some idea. Her big sister, Jordan, represented the county for three straight years in Washington.
Both students say they will spend the coming days hitting the books even harder.
"My main priority is to learn the anthology of all the common origins of words," Kush said.
"I'm just going to look up the definitions of as many words as I can find," Sophie said.
And for student considering following in their spelling bee footsteps, Kush has this advice.
"You need to study," he said with a laugh. "You need to study like you've never studied before! I'm not kidding."
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