S-M-A-R-T kids: Jackson County Spelling Bee runs out of words

The Jackson County Spelling Bee began, as scheduled, on Saturday morning at a local public library branch.

What organizers didn't anticipate: running out of words.

After 19 rounds, the 25 contestants had been whittled down to two: Grade 5 student Sophia Hoffman and Grade 7 student Kush Sharma.

Round after round, Sophia and Kush got it right.

Kush spelled both "scherzo" and "fantoccini" correctly.

Sophia nailed "schadenfreude" and "barukhzy."

When Kush missed one long French word — "I have no idea how to pronounce it," 13-year-old Kush later admitted to the Kansas City Star — Sophia missed it, too.

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During the bee's lunch break, officials added 20 words to the list, hoping to eventually stump one of the students.

After 66 rounds, the spelling-savvy students completed the list of words.

Not wanting to pull random words out of the dictionary in the middle of the competition — What if the words' difficulties weren't equal? — officials decided to continue the spelling bee in early March.

At their second meeting, Sophia and Kush will be challenged with words from anywhere in the 1,664-page Merriam-Webster's 11th Edition Dictionary, not just from the Scripps-approved list of 300 words.

The winner of the Sophia-Kush showdown gets a ticket to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this May.