The last of Minnesota's five 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee contestants exited in the fifth round Wednesday, and not because of a misspelled word.
Maximus Katsoulis, 14, of Blackduck, was tripped up in a vocabulary round when asked: "What does it mean to carp?"
His reply: "To climb up frozen waterfalls using an ice ax."
Nope, to carp means to "complain in an ill-natured way," which a new generation of spelling bee contestants might, in fact, find tempting.
That's because they no longer are being asked to simply spell words, but in some rounds, to explain instead what a word means. It is a pandemic-era rule change making it possible for a contestant to be bounced from a spelling bee without having misspelled a word.
Vihaan Kapil, 9, of Arden Hills, suffered the same fate Tuesday when, after correctly spelling "zaibatsu," he erred in defining the word "idiosyncratic" in the second round.
Katsoulis advanced by describing a "duvet" as a warm cover for a bed. He is the first person from Blackduck to vie for the national spelling bee title, and had a day named after him in the city northeast of Bemidji.
The state's other contestants — Elijah Elledge, 11, of North Mankato; Roberto Villasboas, 12, of Rochester, and Will Rausch, 13, of Staples — made more traditional first-round exits on misspelled words: pot-au-feu, Robigalia and gegenschein.
The spelling bee is being broadcast on the Ion network through Thursday.