Badger State Spelling Bee was held at Mitby Theater

Taleise Lawrence, Copy Editor

A small child walks up to the stand, straining to reach the microphone. Halfway through spelling the given word, he stops. There is not a sound to be heard. No shuffling of programs or fidgeting in seats; it’s as if the entire theater is holding its breath. 

This is what the 2022 Badger State Spelling Bee, hosted by the Wisconsin State Journal, consisted of. It was held in the Mitby Theater here at Madison College. There were 55 students, ranging from fourth to eighth grade. People came from all over Wisconsin, as far south as the Illinois-Wisconsin border town Lake Geneva and as far north as Tomahawk.  

The bee’s pronouncer was Barry Williams, who participated in spelling bees when he was a child. Accompanying Williams were the judges Meredith McGlone, Jimbo Jacobs and Joel Patenaude. The spelling bee was coordinated by Kirsten Adshead. 

This was no walk in the park, even for these accomplished spellers. There were words thrown at them such as “boondoggle” and “flimflammer.” There were some that were less ridiculous sounding but just as difficult, such as “obstetrician” or “proprioceptive.” There were about 25 rounds, including both spelling and a multiple choice vocabulary round.  

The final three contestants were Maya Jadhav, Aiden Wijeyakulasuriya and Maadhav Karun. The final rounds with these three schoolchildren were intense. The audience was on the edge of their seats, waiting for whatever unfortunate speller would slip up first. Then, it happened. Karun spelled “frangipane” incorrectly.  

After removing his contestant number, similar to a bib in track and field, Karun left the stage to talk to a spelling bee official. The official got up and rushed over to the judges, who then had a hushed discussion. The misspelling was in contention; Karun claimed he had spelled it correctly. Pronouncer Barry Williams explained that the speller had missed the silent “e” at the end of the word.  

To be entirely sure at such a crucial time in the bee, the judges played back the audio recording of the events. After listening to it again, they determined that he had spelled it incorrectly, as they could not hear any “e”.  

Suddenly, there were shouts from the audience. People all over the theater were raising their hands, exclaiming “We heard it!” The way the people came together to support a child that many of them likely had never even met before was enough to give a person chills. Karun was incredibly polite, telling the judges “thank you for letting me back in” on his next turn to spell. 

Ultimately, Maya Jadhav of Fitchburg won the bee. This is not unfamiliar territory for the homeschooled eighth grader; she has won for the past four years. She will go on to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee held late May in Washington, D.C.