There’s no “embellishing” it – this year’s Osakis Spelling Bee was an exciting, up-and-down battle.

It took 17 rounds before seventh-grader Gavin Briggs won the bee by correctly spelling “embellishes.” In comparison, last year’s bee was decided in 13 rounds.

Seventeen Osakis students from fifth to eighth grade qualified to compete in the Jan. 27 bee, which took place in the Osakis High School Auditorium and complied with COVID-19 precautions, including limiting the audience, practicing social distancing, wearing face masks and limiting contact with the microphone.

On round six, the field narrowed to three finalists after four spellers were eliminated with tricky words – “indecipherable,” “Aztec,” “laboratory” and “runes.”

This left Briggs and two fifth-graders, Isaac Chisholm and Isabel Glenetske, on the stage.

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It eventually came down to Briggs and Chisholm, who dueled through six rounds. Both of them either correctly spelled their words or incorrectly spelled words until Briggs emerged the champion.

The coordinator for this year’s Osakis Spelling Bee was second-grade teacher, Melanie Stier, who is also the instructor for second through sixth-grade gifted and talented students.