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2018 Badger State Spelling Bee ends in tie for first time in at least 40 years
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2018 Badger State Spelling Bee ends in tie for first time in at least 40 years


For the first time in at least 40 years, there are two Wisconsin spelling bee champions.

After running through all the words bee organizers had prepared in a one-on-one spelling duel, Hanna Ghouse and Immanuel Goveas were crowned co-champions of Saturday’s 2018 Badger State Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Wisconsin State Journal, at Madison Area Technical College’s Mitby Theater.

Ghouse, an eighth-grader at KTEC-West in Kenosha, and Goveas, a fifth-grader from Riverside Elementary School in Menomonee Falls, along with Maya Jadhav, a fourth-grader at Madison’s EAGLE School, will now have a shot at winning the national bee in May.

Goveas and Ghouse matched each other during an approximately 45-minute showdown by correctly spelling words including “coriaceous,” an adjective describing something that resembles leather, and “derailleur,” a mechanism for shifting gears on a bicycle that operates by moving the chain from one set of exposed gears to another.

This will be Ghouse’s second time at the national bee. The three-time state participant finished second at last year’s Badger State Spelling Bee.

“It’s still very exciting for me,” she said.

Goveas will be going to the national bee for the first time. He said he didn’t expect the event to end in a tie, but was just glad he was going to nationals.

“I was just happy for the three of us,” he said. “I feel flabbergasted. ... I’m so excited to go to nationals.”

An apparent first

Brad Williams, a radio journalist, former Badger State Spelling Bee champion and pronouncer of the event for the last 40 years, said he can’t recall a tie in the event’s history. The state spelling bee was held for the first time in 1949.

Fifty spellers in third through eighth grade from across Wisconsin tried their skill at correctly spelling an array of words for a chance at the state title and a trip to the national spelling bee.

Words spanned Dutch, Arabic and French origins. Students had to correctly spell common words such as “indigenous” and “lieutenant” and more esoteric ones including “ytterbium” and “obsequious.”

The national finals, the Scripps National Spelling Bee, will take place between May 27 and 31 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Ghouse said this year, she’ll spend extra time studying roots and language patterns.

Not much sleep

Her father, Mahmood Ghouse, said he was proud of Hanna and all of the hard work she’s done to prepare for the competition. They hadn’t had much sleep the last few nights because they were too busy studying, he said.

“For the last three nights, we slept for only three hours,” he said.

After getting some sleep Saturday night, he said they’ll start preparing all over again.

To practice for the state bee, Goveas’ father, Joseph, said Immanuel gave up soccer practice and studied for one to two hours a day.

For supporting and helping him study, Immanuel, a first-time state participant, thanked his friends, teachers and family — including his sister, Veronica, the 2016 Badger State Spelling Bee champion.

He said he’ll take extra time to study the roots and rules of language for the next stage.

Jadhav, who was eliminated after misspelling “mizuna,” a Japanese leaf used in salads, said she’s excited and she’ll get ready for the national competition by studying word lists from past bees.

Jadhav made it to the Madison’s All-City Spelling Bee last year, but this was her first attempt at the state level.

“She certainly worked hard,” said her mother, Terra Theim.


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