Jacob Muin admits he has his work cut out for him.
The fifth grader said he only studied “a few hours” to prepare for Tuesday’s Sedalia Middle School spelling bee, which ended up as the longest in school history. Those few hours were enough, as Muin correctly spelled “quell” to take first place, earning him a slot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee to be hosted May 28 to June 3 in National Harbor, Md.
The field of 20 SMS spellers dropped to five after the first round, and then became a head-to-head battle between Muin and Ronak Bhakta starting in Round 9. They went back and forth until Muin spelled “boutique” correctly in Round 20, with Bhakta missing on “caribou.” When moderator Joel Sherman gave Muin his next word, Muin let out a heavy exhale before confidently spelling “quell.”
“I was just hoping for words I would recognize,” said Muin, who credited his appetite for reading as a key factor in his success. Muin faced elimination in four separate rounds, but stayed alive when fellow contestants missed on their next attempts. Bhakta finished second and Demetriuz Hernandez Smith was third.
Muin earned a trip to the national bee for himself and his father, James, along with a Merriam-Webster dictionary, online access to Encyclopedia Britannica, a $25 Amazon gift card and other prizes. He is excited about the trip, but knows he can’t rely on only reading if he hopes to compete.
“I will need to do more work than I did for this (bee),” he said.
Release courtesy of Sedalia School District 200