Riley Thede wins Miller Spelling Bee Final

T-R photos by Noah Rohlfing Medalists Ella Spitzli and Riley Thede show off their medals following Thursday’s Miller Spelling Bee Finals.

The crowd of middle-school students at Miller Middle School’s auditorium burst into cheers the moment eighth-grader Riley Thede finished his attempt at the championship word during Thursday’s Miller Spelling Bee Final.

The word was tetragonal. Thede stepped up to the microphone and gave it a shot: t-e-t-r-a-g-o-n-a-l.

Teacher Lucas Johnson announced he was correct, and Thede was the victor.

The spelling bee at Miller Middle School is an official part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and Thede’s victory means he will take part in the Iowa regional spelling bee March 21 at Augustana College in Rock Island, ILL.

From there, it goes to the state level and then Washington D.C. for the real deal. Marshalltown had a lot of competitive participants in this year’s bee, and school started late to allow the student body to be spectators when the event began at 8:40 a.m.

he three finalists for the Miller Spelling Bee Finals: Riley Thede, Ella Spitzli and Isaac Benscoter.

Some of the more difficult words put forth by Johnson included foods — avocado, poblano and arugula among them — and technical words like assuasive.

In an action-packed final round, there was the final three — There, Isaac Benscoter and Ella Spitzli. Spitzli and Thede went back and forth, taking turns getting to the championship question and coming up short. In all, it took more than five attempts to crown a winner, which put the sitting audience at a fervor up to the final letter. Spitzlii finished second in the competition and will be an alternate should Thede not take part in regionals for any reason.

Communications Director for Marshalltown School District Adam Sodders said the number of participants on Thursday was 26. However, 73 students competed in the preliminary rounds of the spelling bee before Thursday’s final.

“It’s great that our students at Miller had a chance to show their spelling skills,” Sodders said. “Spelling bees not only test language skills, but also see students perform in front of an audience, which is another important skill. Even with the pressure of being on stage, the students seemed to really enjoy the bee today.”


Riley Thede realizes he’s won the Miller Spelling Bee Finals after correctly spelling tetragonal.

Contact Noah Rohlfing at 641-753-6611 or nrohlfing@timesrepublican.com.

Ella Spitzli watches on as Riley Thede attempts to spell a word during the Miller Spelling Bee Finals Thursday morning.