Spelling your way to victory

Winning the school spelling bee may have its bragging rights, but a North Dakota teen took those skills all the way to the nationals.

You don't have to be playing a basketball game to break out in a sweat when the pressure is on.

Ninety-six fourth through eighth-graders representing 49 of 53 counties showed off their spelling abilities for the 2019 North Dakota Spelling Bee.

"We like to remind the students that just a simple fact of being here competing, they are already a winner" said Lorraine Weber, State Spelling Bee Coordinator.

Twenty-six of them made it to the oral spelling round. But only one winner can be the champion.

For Tobi Shorunke, last year's champion, says he only studied four months before advancing to the national spelling bee.

"Yeah, I saw the opportunity and I was like '"Oh, let me grab this opportunity, I'm an eight grader'" said Tobi Shorunke, 2018 ND Spelling Bee Champion.

His mother says when Shorunke won, it wasn't completely a surprise.

"I mean I've always seen him very diligent with his work, but this time around, I saw Tobi that was like, 'I gotta make my state proud.'" said Bukola Bakare, Tobi's mother.

Even though Shorunke is too old to compete, that didn't stop him from competing in the adult exam. But this year, he was rooting for a new champion. His younger brother.

"I would quiz him, I also made him so study guides that he could use," said Shorunke.

Annaliese Raushenberger might have taken this year's champion spot with the word "microbial," the Shorunke family is determined to come back next year.

"He just has to be willing to work hard to achieve his goal," said Shorunke​.​

Annaliese Raushenberger will compete in the Scripps National Bee Week held May 26 to June 1 near Washington, D.C.