The spelling of the word “dorcastry” tripped seventh-grader Tailer Olsson of Haines at the Alaska 2014 State Spelling Bee Feb. 28.

Olsson, 13, was one of 149 school champions who squared off during the all-day event on the stage of the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts in Anchorage. Olsson, runner-up in the local bee, made the trip after winner Lydia Andriesen couldn’t make it.

Olsson survived the bee’s first round, successfully spelling “grotto.” For the second round – about five hours into the competition – bee organizers stopped using a list of words students had studied and started pulling ones out of the dictionary, Olson said.

Olsson said she’d never heard of dorcastry, defined as a church auxiliary organized to do benevolent work. (The word was not in two unabridged dictionaries the CVN checked this week.)

Olsson stalled by asking the pronouncer for the origin of the word. “I was trying to give myself as much time as possible.” She misspelled the word, “dorchestry.” By round three, only 43 spellers remained.

Competing in the bee was “kind of scary,” for being onstage in front of an audience of other spellers and parents, Olsson said.

The bee went about 15 rounds before Abigail FitzGibbon, a seventh-grader from Sitka’s Blatchley Middle School, won by correctly spelling “bagatelle,” which means a trifle. FitzGibbon will represent Alaska at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.

Olsson said other highlights of the trip included eating at Fifth Avenue Mall, visiting museums and seeing former Haines schoolmate Marissa Haddock. An avid reader, Olsson said she’s now into the third book of the “Hunger Games” trilogy.

She said she wanted to thank the Haines Borough school board for helping fund the trip to the state bee. The district this year provided a $1,000 travel stipend for the Haines spelling champion to compete at state.