Spelling throwdown is Saturday at NIC

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(File photo/BETHANY BLITZ) Joseph Moran was surprised when a cannon blasted streamers right after he was announced the North Idaho Regional Spelling Bee champion. The homeschooled fifth-grader received an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Students from throughout North Idaho will be slinging alphabetical letters Saturday, hoping to outspell their competitors in the 16th annual North Idaho Regional Spelling Bee.

The competition begins at 9 a.m. in the Edminster Student Union Building on the North Idaho College campus, and the public is invited to attend.

The 46 fourth- through eighth-grade contestants qualified to participate in the regional spelling bee by winning district-level competitions in their respective grade levels.

These stellar spellers will compete against each other Saturday, regardless of grade level.

And the competition will be tough, with one particularly formidable spelling opponent.

Two-time regional champ, Joseph Moran, a home-schooled seventh-grader from Kootenai County, returns to compete for a third time.

Joseph, as regional winner, represented North Idaho in 2017 and 2018 at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

As it does each year for the regional spelling champion, the Coeur d’Alene Press paid all expenses for Joseph and a guardian to travel to the nation’s capitol so Joseph could compete in the Scripps Bee, which is broadcast on ESPN.

Joseph is just the second speller to win two consecutive North Idaho regional spelling bees since the local contest’s inception.

He came out on top last year after 26 rounds, one of the bee’s longest tournaments, and back then, he had his eye on returning and winning for a third time, and earning another shot at the national title.

“Maybe I can set a record for Idaho for the most consecutive bees won,” he said, in 2018. “I know there’s at least people coming to the nationals who are coming for their fourth time. I could make that happen.”

The North Idaho Regional Spelling Bee is sponsored by the Coeur d’Alene Press and hosted by North Idaho College.

Staff writer Maureen Dolan contributed to this report.

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