There must be something in the water at one west metro middle school.
Minnetonka Middle School East seventh-grader Will Rooke outlasted 48 other spellers from the metro area last week to capture a coveted spot in the nationally televised Scripps National Spelling Bee, which runs from May 27 to June 2 just outside the nation's capital.
Rooke sealed victory in Round 17, correctly spelling "capriole," which is a movement performed in classical riding, in which a horse leaps from the ground and kicks out with its hind legs.
He joins five other Minnesota masters of the dictionary heading to the long-running national showdown, which is telecast by ESPN. They are: Briana Joseph, a seventh-grader from Fairmont Junior/Senior High School who made it to the prelims of the national bee in 2015; Forestview (Brainerd) eighth-grader Meryl Tigenoah; Staples-Motley eighth-grader Rose Han; Ainsley Boucher, a seventh-grader from Crookston High School; and Thomas York, an eighth-grader who attends St. Francis of Assisi School in Rochester.
York's father, Michael, advanced to the national bee in 1982 from Saginaw Valley, Mich.
Last May, eighth-grader Max Meyer at Minnetonka Middle School East was a finalist in the national spell-down, bowing out when he missed with "dulia," the reverence accorded to saints and angels. Max offered: d-e-u-l-e-i-a. In 2015, he came in 11th at the national bee.
The National Spelling Bee started in 1925 with nine contestants. Minnesota has had one national champion, Sean Conley, of Shakopee, in 2001.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482