Two of the top three spellers in the 12th annual Century Middle School spelling bee were twins.
Taking home gift cards for $50 and $20, respectively, were first-place speller Nadia Yliniemi and her brother, third-place speller Aidan Yliniemi. Both are seventh-graders at the school.
The second-place speller was sixth-grader Eli Burton. Both Nadia and Eli qualified to advance to the regional spelling bee Wednesday, Feb. 7 in Thief River Falls.
Amy Thielen, one of the parent-coordinators of the PTA-hosted event, said, "We've got some good spellers here at Century School. We're hoping we'll get pretty far."
Thielen said it would be nice to see Park Rapids represented when the top four spellers from the regional bee compete at state Feb. 20 in Fergus Falls. The statewide winner gets to compete at the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C.
This week's competition started with 20 of the school's top-22-scoring students in a recent written spelling test. Two of the qualifying students were unable to attend the bee.
Announcer Joe Grimes read the words, often providing definitions or example sentences and warning the spellers about easily confused words.
By the seventh round, competition was whittled down to just five spellers. At this point in the spelling bee, tension built around the rule that anyone eliminated in one round would be saved if no one in the next round spelled a word correctly. Two who made spelling mistakes in Round 8 were saved when the two remaining spellers, Burton and Aidan Yliniemi, both gave incorrect answers in Round 9.
By the 11th round, only three spellers were left. The salvation rule was invoked again when Aidan Yliniemi advanced alone to Round 12, but the potential championship word "sinewy" left him stumped.
"That's English?" he exclaimed. "That's a weird word!"
In Round 13, the word "boisterously" knocked Aidan out for good. His third-place finish was cemented when his sister Nadia gave the correct spelling of "incessant" in Round 14.
Burton misspelled "truculently" in the same round, relegating him to second place when Nadia Yliniemi successfully spelled the championship word, "fluorescent," in the 15th round.
Other words that eliminated spellers from competition included "agog," "lazily," "craggy," "amusing," "chapel," "manure," "energetic," "balloonist," "handiwork," "sparsely," "altitude," "regents," "practically," "bulletin," "affirmation," "Chesapeake," "barrette," "marmalade" and "exasperation."