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04 Spelling bee

By Elliot Mann

emann@postbulletin.com

When Kasson-Mantorville eighth-grader Laura Galbus heard "ensconce" during the championship round of Tuesday’s Southeast Minnesota Spelling Bee, she might have wanted to follow suit.

Instead, she confidentially spelled the word — which means to cover or shelter; hide securely — and earned a spot at the national spelling bee in May. She will be one of five Minnesotans competing.

Galbus, 13, emerged victorious in the 14-round competition, bettering 12 other regional contestants by putting together words like: "teleran," a system of aerial navigation; "tetracycline," a yellow crystalline compound used as an antibiotic; and "bromeliad," a plant native to tropical America.

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The Scripps National Spelling Bee will be May 26-28 in Washington, D.C.

Galbus said she practiced for several hours during the past few weeks, running through 1,000 words just this past weekend. But in the final rounds, the words were still unfamiliar.

"When it got down (to the end), it was just all guessing," Galbus said with a laugh.

Galbus erred on two words, but continued through as the other contestants also missed their words. When one speller remains, they need to correctly spell another word or the competition continues.

That happened three times during the later rounds, once to Galbus. She stumbled during the spelling of "phonasthenia," a weakness of the voice brought on by fatigue. But as the competition moved on, Galbus proved "inexorable," impossible to prevent, which she spelled correctly in the 14th round.

The later words also stumped her parents, Andy and Holly, who watched the competition along with about 40 other parents and onlookers.

"I missed the majority of them," Andy Galbus joked.

Laura Galbus is no stranger to the later rounds of the competition. The spelling whiz came in second last year to Rochester’s two-time national spelling bee participant Catherine "Cat" Cojocaru. This year, Cojocaru was a judge at the competition, providing a bit of serendipity (a word Galbus spelled correctly on Tuesday).

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The two spelling aces talked briefly after the competition, with Cojocaru offering her e-mail address and advice as nationals approaches.

"I was really hoping she would do well, because I know she has worked really hard," said Cojocaru, now a ninth-grader at Lourdes High School.

The other finalists included seventh-grader Melissa Brown of Rochester public schools and sixth-grader Radhika Edpunganti from La Crescent-Hokah public schools. Students ranged from fourth grade to eighth grade — with Mabel-Canton fourth-grader Casey Olson the youngest participant.

For more information, go to Postbulletin.com/weblinks.

Scripps National Spelling Bee online, http://www.spellingbee.com/

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