Madeline Rickert and Rylee Peltier to compete at the State Spelling Bee

The final round of the Ward County Spelling Bee Wednesday at Minot State University was a real nail-biter. Sawyer sixth-grader Rylee Peltier and Washington Elementary fifth-grader Harper Wentz returned again and again to the microphone during the oral round to decide who would be the runner-up.

“There were a lot of misspelled words,” said Rylee, a sixth-grader at Sawyer Elementary School. Rylee failed to spell “kudzu” and “mariachi” and Harper fell on words like “colloquial,” “streusel” and “autobahn.” Eventually, Rylee was victorious when he correctly spelled “cachet.”

Earlier in the oral round, Erik Ramstad Middle School sixth-grader Madeline Rickert claimed the top spot, correctly spelling “seersucker,” “animosity,” “Boswell,” “misanthropy,” “scenario,” “buccaneer,” and “babushka” to win.

Students in the fifth through eighth grades competed at the county bee, participating in a written spelling contest in the morning. Top spellers in the written competition were chosen to compete in the oral round. The top two spellers in the oral round go on to compete at the state bee. Both Madeline and Rylee will represent Ward County at the State Spelling Bee on March 22 in Bismarck.

Madeline said she has been studying hard in the weeks leading up to the bee, first reviewing spelling words for the competition with her mother and also taking spelling quizzes on the website (

Most of the words weren’t that hard, Madeline said, but she was nervous and that made it a little harder to concentrate during the oral round.

Rylee said he found some words with a French origin harder to spell. When he heard “cachet,” a word meaning “an indication of approval carrying prestige,” Rylee remembered that some French words are spelled with a “ch” instead of an “sh.”

Rylee said there weren’t any words given to his competitors that he was glad he wasn’t given to spell. There was one he wished he had a chance to spell.

“I wanted to get ‘panzer’,” he said. “I’m a World War II freak. I knew that one from the start.”

Panzer means any type of armored fighting tank used by the Germans during World War II.

Both Madeline and Rylee are big readers, which they said helped make them good spellers. Both said they plan to study hard for the state bee.