BCHS Spell Bowl team finishes as state finalist

Thirty high school teams competed in this year’s Indiana Academic Spell Bowl Senior Division State Finals.

On Saturday at Purdue University in West Lafayette, each team had 10 students spell nine words apiece.

In the end, the top three teams were announced, and then the remaining 27 were named state finalists.

Terre Haute South was declared the overall state champion, while Roncalli was runner-up, and Penn placed third. The Indiana Association of School Principals, which oversees Spell Bowl, does not post team scores in the online results.

Jackson County was represented by Brownstown Central High School in the competition. The team was among the state finalists, scoring 54 out of 90, coach Angie Sibrel said.

Even though each school was placed in one of four classes, they were all lumped together with no class distinction at the state finals, she said.

Brownstown’s showing was highlighted by senior Raegan Ratliff earning a near-perfect score by spelling eight of her nine words correctly.

The other spellers were seniors Holden Tovey, Madison Edwards, Elix Preston, Eli Reynolds, Clayton Blackburn and Violet Plumm, sophomores Abby Tovey and Cody Blackburn and freshman Floyd Davis. Alternates were seniors Jayse Davis, Bryce Reaser and Landon Hehman and freshman Jace Reaser.

“I’m very proud of the team,” Sibrel said.

Brownstown qualified for the state finals after being among the top 30 at area competitions that were conducted Nov. 1 around the state.

BCHS was among five teams competing at Austin High School and had the highest score that night with a 58. Edwards and Cody Blackburn each spelled eight of their nine words correctly and received a near-perfect ribbon, and each team member received a blue ribbon for their winning efforts.

The team began practicing the list of nearly 2,200 words in September, and practices were conducted before and after school Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students had to attend at least 10 practices to be eligible to compete in the area competition, and Sibrel said most of them exceeded that.

On Nov. 2, the team gathered in Sibrel’s classroom to check out the results from around the state as they were posted on the IASP website. There were 127 teams that had participated in area contests, and only the top scorer from each of the four classes and the 26 next-best scorers advanced to the state finals.

Sibrel and the team members celebrated when they saw Brownstown, which competed in Class 3, was among the top 30, placing 17th in the state.

Sibrel, who has coached Spell Bowl at the school for 20-plus years, said this was the first state-qualifying team since Brownstown went in 1995 and 1997.

This year, the class state champions determined by area results were Terre Haute South for Class 1 (scored 89), Roncalli for Class 2 (79), North Posey for Class 3 (67) and Elkhart Christian for Class 4 (57).

For information about Spell Bowl, visit iasp.org/students/academic-spell-bowl.