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Missoula 7th grader makes national spelling bee history

Reagan Remmers is representing Target Range at the Scripps National Spelling Bee

A Missoula seventh grader made her way to the history books. Reagan Remmers is only the fifth person in 20 years to be reinstated in the Scripps National Spelling Bee after elimination.

Remmers had to spell the word “balaclava,” which is a garment that covers the whole head, neck and most of the face. She spelled it as “balaklava.”

After elimination she was on her way to lunch with her mother when the phone rang. Spelling Bee officials called to say they were reinstating her, because she spelled the homonym of her word, meaning a word with the same pronunciation but different meanings, origins or spellings. Balaklava is a small town in Russia. The judges didn’t tell her it was a homonym, and she didn’t ask for a definition, so they reinstated her.

"I thought that was pretty cool,” Remmers said. “I was really excited. I was like, ‘oh sweet!’ But I'm pretty sure my preliminary score wouldn't get me to finals, which it didn't, so it was kind of a useless reinstatement. But it was still pretty, pretty dang cool."

We talked to Remmers right after she watched rounds four and five Thursday morning. She’ll be back to watch the final round Thursday night, which starts at 6:30 p.m. MST.

Remmers hopes to qualify again next year.

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