At Johnson County Spelling Bee, Rishi Shetty and Sarah Ellison emerge from tough field to advance to next level

Rishi Shetty of Blue Valley's Aubry Bend Middle School is the Johnson County Spelling Bee champion.
Rishi Shetty of Blue Valley’s Aubry Bend Middle School is the Johnson County Spelling Bee champion.

Rishi Shetty went ahead and asked for the definition of the word, though he already knew it.

Trailridge Middle School’s Sarah Ellison was runner-up, and advances to the state bee.So as soon as Shawnee Mission Assistant Superintendent Leigh Anne Neal finished saying that it was “feat of strength, skill or artistic merit,” Shetty quickly rattled off the letters: “T-O-U-R-D-E-F-O-R-C-E, tour de force.”

Trailridge Middle School's Sarah Ellison was runner-up, and advances to the state bee.
Trailridge Middle School’s Sarah Ellison was runner-up, and advances to the state bee.

And with that, the 11-year-old student from Blue Valley’s Aubry Bend Middle School became the 2018 Johnson County Spelling Bee champion.

Shetty beat out 77 other elementary and middle school student who had won building-level competitions to make it to the county bee, a grueling day that six finalists emerge from each of two preliminary rounds Saturday morning. At 1 p.m., the finalists took the stage at Indian Woods Middle School, and faced an increasingly challenging mix of words, from the obscure (“desiderium”) to the modern (“turducken.” Seriously. “Turducken”).

Shetty will be joined at the state bee by Trailridge Elementary School 8th grader Sarah Ellison, who was competing in her first bee. Ellison said she was shocked to have made it to the final two, and although she would have loved to take the title, she was relieved to advance and see the day come to a close.

“I’m tired,” she said. “It’s a long day.”

Shetty competed in the bee for the first time last year, when he found himself just outside the field of finalists. So when he made it to the final round Saturday, he was already pretty excited. To walk away with the win was totally unexpected, he said.

“It feels great — a little overwhelming to get this far, though,” he said.

Shetty said he will probably take three or four days off from practicing before resuming training and preparing for the state bee.

For Ellison, training will include her favorite pastime: reading.

“Growing up, and still now, I read a lot, so it’s just words you pick up,” she said.

Video of the full final round is embedded at the bottom of this post.

Mira McInnes from Corinth Elementary was among the 12 competitors to advance to the final round.
Mira McInnes from Corinth Elementary was among the 12 competitors to advance to the final round.

Johnson County spelling bee final round at Indian Woods Middle School. 12 spellers made it to this stage.

Posted by Shawnee Mission Post on Saturday, January 27, 2018