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Vermillion 8th Grader Wins State Spelling Bee at USD

Spelling Bee Winner Owen Dudley reacts after spelling the winning word.

VERMILLION, S.D. – Owen Dudley, an 8th grader at Vermillion Middle School, correctly spelled “nondescript” to win the 2015 South Dakota State Spelling Bee at the University of South Dakota on Saturday. He qualifies for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be televised by ESPN from Washington, D.C., in May.

Runner-up was Hari Kadarkaraisamy, a 5th grader at Jolley Elementary School in Vermillion. In third place was Helen Zhang, a 7th grader at George S. Mickelson Middle School in Brookings.

Fifteen spellers from five regions of South Dakota competed in the state spelling bee, which is sponsored each year by the University of South Dakota and Rotary International.

First-place in the written portion of the state spelling bee was a tie between Nana Addo, a 5th grader at Dakota Valley Middle School in North Sioux City, and Angela Lansang, a 7th grader at George S. Mickelson Middle School, Brookings. Third place in the written portion went to Heidi Tirrel, an 8th grader at Mitchell Christian School.

Nationwide in 2014-2015, more than 11 million students through eighth grade will compete in a variety of local and statewide competitions in order to qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The bee is the nation’s longest running education promotion, which began in 1925 and today is administered on a not-for-profit basis by the E.W. Scripps Company.

The program of study includes curriculum for schools, lists of vocabulary words and training on the parts of speech and the languages of origin for the words to be spelled.

Here is a list of all the spellers who competed in the 2015 state bee:

Nana Addo of Dakota Dunes, 5th grade at Dakota Valley Middle School; Mackenzie Christensen of Huron, 6th grader at Huron Middle School; Owen Dudley of Vermillion, 8th grader at Vermillion Middle School; Gabe Fendrich of Sioux Falls, 8th grader at Edison Middle School; Sam Gibbon of Rapid City, 5th grader at St. Elizabeth Seton; Ella Heinitz of Dell Rapids, a 6th grader at St. Mary’s Catholic; Sierra Huntley of Rapid City, an 8th grader at Rapid City Christian School; Hari Kadarkaraisamy of Vermillion, a 5th grader at Jolley Elementary; Angela Lansang of Brookings, a 7th grader at George S. Michelson Middle School; Noah Morgans of Sioux Falls, A 5th grader at Holy Spirit School; Jace Oesterling of Custer, an 8th grader, home schooled; Jamie Robbins of Watertown, a 5th grader at Waverly/South Shore School; Aubrey Rutledge of Huron, a 6th grader at Huron Middle School; Heidi Tirrel of Mitchell, an 8th grader at Mitchell Christian School; and Helen Zhang of Brookings, a 7th grader at George S. Mickelson Middle School.

Download a photo of first-place winner Owen Dudley.
Download a photo of second place winner Hari Kadarkaraisamy.
Download a photo of third place winner Helen Zhang.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, Knudson School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News