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Alternate wins spelling bee in Pine River-Backus

An alternate ended up winning the Pine River-Backus spelling bee Thursday, Feb. 19. Before the start of the contest, contestants from fifth and seventh grades stepped out of the race, followed by two fifth-grade alternates, leaving sixth-grade al...

Elementary Principal Rick Aulie didn't hesitate to get a photo with Pine River-Backus Spelling Bee winner and sixth grade alternate Andrew Hoplin. Photo by Travis Grimler
Elementary Principal Rick Aulie didn't hesitate to get a photo with Pine River-Backus Spelling Bee winner and sixth grade alternate Andrew Hoplin. Photo by Travis Grimler

An alternate ended up winning the Pine River-Backus spelling bee Thursday, Feb. 19.

Before the start of the contest, contestants from fifth and seventh grades stepped out of the race, followed by two fifth-grade alternates, leaving sixth-grade alternates Andrew Hoplin and Rylie Hirschey to fill their spots.

The overall victory went to Hoplin after 13 grueling rounds.

Eliminations came early when the compound word "wildcat" threw fifth-grader Helana German for a loop in round one. Sixth-grader Kyosuke Marcum got lost in a "parlor" in round two. Eighth-grader Drew Raph got a little blue in round three when she dropped the word "indigo."

As words continued to get harder, contestants became more pressed. In round five, fifth-grader Daniel Irish was taken down by "chickens." When eighth-grader Christian Reedy came to a word he couldn't get, he "squirm(ed)" and was eliminated. The "ritziness" was too much for Hirschey in round seven, and round nine's "surrogate" took out seventh-grader Ethan Tulenchik.

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With only four contestants left, the contest was anyone's to win.

Surely sixth-grader Malachi Wipper "appreciat(ed)" making it to within two rounds of winning, but he was eliminated in round 11. Sarah Johnson went down like a "phoenix" in round 12, but did not get back up, leaving just Hoplin and eighth-grader Joseph Merritt to duke it out.

Round 12 proved too much of a "goliath" for Merritt, and in the end, Hoplin got to go "berserk" when he heard the last, championship word. When he was named winner, Hoplin explained that "berserk" was one of the words he remembered studying in preparation for the competition, so the final round proved easy.

As a prize, Hoplin won a $10 Dairy Queen certificate and a free subscription to Encyclopedia Brittanica Online. Hoplin also earned the right to continue on to the Lakes Spelling Bee in Brainerd on March 18.

Related Topics: BACKUSPINE RIVER
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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