Last year, as a seventh grader, Elizabeth Gust advanced out off the written round at the regional spelling bee and into the oral round. There, she had to participate in a spell off to earn the fourth and final spot to the Multi-Region State Spelling Bee. She would come up just short, finishing fifth. This year, Elizabeth advanced to the regional bee again for another chance.
In her last year of eligibility to compete in the bee now as an eighth grader, Elizabeth advanced from the written round and into the oral round of 21 spellers again at the regional bee from Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls on February 6.
After just three oral rounds, Elizabeth remained in the bee and so did three other spellers. There was no need for any spell offs. She had earned her spot to the Multi-Region State Spelling Bee, to take place at the Lakes Country Service Cooperative in Fergus Falls on February 19.
“I was really happy. I was like this is good you know,” Elizabeth said.
She would clinch her spot on the word, “docile.”
Watching the regional bee, Elizabeth’s mom Mara Gust said this year was less nerve-racking than the year prior.
“There was no fighting till the bitter end kind of a thing,” Mara said. “It was just there were four left (and) we’re done.”
Elizabeth’s spelling journey began with her second straight first place finish at the Greenbush-Middle River Spelling Bee on January 23. Her younger sister Audrey placed second behind her both times.
Having advanced to the regional bee last year did provide her with experience that she explained was valuable. Asked if coming up just short of a spot at the multi-region bee motivated her this year, she said yes, but did add that the timing of last year’s multi-region bee, if she would have advanced, wasn’t “opportune” for her.
“Plus this year, I’m sure I’ll do better than I did last year because I’m older and more experienced,” Elizabeth said.
To prepare for the regional bee, Elizabeth went online and printed off a list of words. She studied this list. Experiences she had well before reviewing this list also prepared her for the bee.
“I read a lot when I was younger. It’s pretty much all I did,” Elizabeth said. “So, I’m sure that (reading experience) helped.”
Greenbush-Middle River Principal Sharon Schultz believed this multi-regional bee trip is the first one earned by a Greenbush-Middle River student. She also cited Elizabeth’s reading as a factor behind her spelling success.
“I’m so proud of Elizabeth for representing our school in a positive way,” Schultz said via email “She reads a lot, and seeing all those words over the years helps good readers become good spellers.”
The winner from this Multi-Region State Spelling Bee advances directly to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, just outside Washington, D.C., May 26-31. Asked about her goals going into the Multi-Region State Bee– an event that includes just an oral round– Elizabeth expressed how she won’t feel sad if she doesn’t advance to the National Bee, but does still have the desire to be competitive.
“I hope to get a few words (right) at least,” Elizabeth said. “… I just want to put up a fight.”
To see the full story, read the February 13 issue of The Tribune in print or online.