For the first time in its history, a champion was not named during the Duke Regional Spelling Bee.
An hour after the scheduled end of the bee, officials and parents decided to stop the “spell-off” among four remaining area competitors Saturday and pick it back up in the coming two weeks at a time convenient for all four competitors.
“We’ll keep going like this with the same difficult words and same rules and protocols until we get an actual winner,” said Lou Rollins, director of special projects for Durham and Regional Affairs. “This has never happened to us.”
The four remaining competitors are Evan Fahringer of Chapel Hill Homeschoolers, Caroline Lazarus of Charles W. Stanford Middle School, Isabel LingYu Peng Murray of Durham School of the Arts and Jason Sorin of Triangle Day School.
“Amazing,” Rollins said of the competitors. “In all capital letters.”
The bee began at 9 a.m. Saturday at Riverside High School with 60 competitors from elementary and middle schools across Orange and Durham counties competing for the regional title. The winner will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in National Bee Week.
In Saturday’s spell-off rounds, if only one competitor spelled his or her word correctly, he or she was compelled to then spell a championship word before being deemed the winner. Failure to spell the championship word resulted in another round beginning with all the previous spellers back in the title hunt.
Not among the final four were previous champion Bettie Closs or her younger sister Hanna. The sisters had battled earlier this year during the Lucas Middle School’s Spelling Bee when both went through all the words on the bee list and finally represented the same school.
During round seven, the second round with more difficult words, Bettie was knocked out on the word “goliardic” followed immediately by Hanna who stumbled on the word “roleo.” Bettie submitted an appeal to the judges based on the word having a homonym, but the appeal was denied because pronouncer had spoken the definition of the word.
Follow Anna Johnson on Twitter at @anna_m_johnson.