That's 13-year-old super speller Will Rausch's favorite word.

"It is fun to say," the Royalton Middle School eighth-grader explained, as he and eight other top spellers from Minnesota prepared for the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee, held on May 28-30.

It's Will's second time at the competition, held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md. Last year he tied for 173rd place.

So did Elijah Elledge, 12, a sixth-grader from Immanuel Lutheran School in North Mankato (who plays five instruments and likes playing Xbox, according to the bee's online "Meet the Spellers" guide) and Roberto Villasboas, 13, a seventh-grader from St. Francis of Assisi School in Rochester (who likes to go camping with his scout troop and is a fan of Liverpool).

Elijah and Roberto are also returning for this year's bee, which will have 245 contestants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Texas, with 20 spellers, is the state with the most national competitors in 2024. In nearly a century of competitions, a Minnesotan has taken home the trophy only once, in 2001: Sean Conley of Aitkin won with the word "succedaneum."

Will, the speller from Royalton, said he's feeling "excited, but a little bit nervous." His favorite thing about the bee is "getting a word and being confident when spelling it."

His mom, Stacey Rausch,said he practices every day, often using an app called Word Club to study.

"It's been a little challenging at times to juggle school, homework, activities and studying," she said. "We make sure he has time to relax and have fun, too. He knows we are extremely proud of him."

The youngest Minnesotan at the bee will be 11-year-old Kai Riedner, a sixth-grader from Minnetonka Middle School West in Excelsior who is fluent in three languages (English, Spanish and Polish).

Kai said he actually enjoys "the suspense that increases with each round I pass."

"My favorite word is Ouagadougou. It sounds complicated, but it actually is not," he said. "It is the capital city of Burkina Faso, a country in Africa."

Kai has been preparing by analyzing languages, learning roots and decoding meanings, his mom, Anita Riedner, said. To help, she "laughed along with him when we encountered funny words, motivated him when needed, and helped him overcome frustrations," she said. "It's been quite a ride."

Also competing from Minnesota after winning their regional spelling bees:

  • Yupeng Chen, 14, an eighth-grader from Ordean East Middle School in Duluth who has been playing violin since age 4 and is a member of the Duluth Superior Symphony Youth Orchestra. According to his "Meet the Spellers" bio, he also loves plants and has a collection of more than 100 orchids.
  • Leyla Jacobson, 13, a seventh-grader from North Junior High School in St. Cloud who, besides being a crackerjack speller, is a jazz dancer.
  • Jaden Go, 13, a seventh-grader from Sacred Heart School in East Grand Forks, who has perfect pitch.
  • Holland Vogel, 14, an eighth-grader from Murray County Central School in Slayton, who has seven cats, two dogs and one pet peacock.
  • Jacob Warner, 12, a seventh-grader from Kennedy Secondary School in Fergus Falls, who likes archery and golf.

Correction: This story misattributed a quote about contestant Kai Riedner. The speaker was Anita Riedner.