Maybe h-e-r-i-t-a-g-e gave him the winning edge.
Twelve-year-old Max Oesterling of Custer took home the first-place trophy at the West River Spelling Bee on Saturday after correctly spelling the word "Slav" in the championship round
The German name Oesterling translates roughly as “someone from the Baltic Sea.”
Max, an eighth grader, is home-schooled through Christian Home Educators.
Second place went to 13-year-old Emily Fox of Lead, who missed one letter of the word "barrow" in the last round. Fox is a seventh-grader at Spearfish Classical Christian Academy.
A lengthy spell-off between seven contestants for third place ended with the correct spelling of "kinetic" by 12-year-old Genesis Reynolds of Rapid City. Reynolds is in eighth grade at South Middle School.
All three winners will now go to the state competition, set for March 23 at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. The state champion will represent South Dakota at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 28-30.
Twenty students in grades four through eight participated in the West River Spelling Bee at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. The event was sponsored by the Rapid City Journal.