Christopher Rademacher was at a loss for words.
The Polo eighth-grader had plenty of them at the ready all day at the Lee/Ogle Regional Spelling Bee Feb. 21.
Rademacher bested 28 other spellers through 33 rounds of more than 300 words to become the champion of the regional bee; he won with the word "schadenfreude."
The 13-year-old, who attends Aplington Middle School, won the regional bee last year and will return to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.
For the second year in a row, the second-place finisher was Paige Myroth, an eighth-grader at Rochelle Middle School.
This is the fourth consecutive year that the two have faced off for the top spot in the Regional Bee.
Myroth took first place with Rademacher as the runner-up in 2010 and 2011.
The third-place speller this year was Kaden Humphrey, an eighth-grader at David L. Rahn Junior High School in Mt. Morris. The fourth-place finisher was Caden Wiehle, an eighth-grader at Meridian Junior High School in Stillman Valley.
Rademacher had no words for his second win and second trip to the national stage. He had one word, actually: A-W-E-S-O-M-E.
The eighth-grader studied more than 1,000 words every day for weeks. He used a study aid through the national spelling bee with official pronouncers, definitions and example sentences.
He wasn't stumped by any of his words, although he admitted "ingenious," given to another speller in the fourth round, might have got him. He wasn't bothered by the number of foreign words, such as "streusel," "perestroika" or "braggadocio," given in the late rounds. He was surprised that the last few words – most notably "defamation," which tripped up Myroth – were not on the study list.
Rademacher, who has been to the regional bee five times, hasn't just learned to correctly spell a lot of often misspelled or obscure words. He's learned to work hard and be persistent, too.
"I think my learning ethic has greatly improved," he said.
The bee lasted more than 3 hours and went through more than 300 words – the most in nearly 20 years.
Among the prizes given to the top four spellers are a $100 savings bond, a Kindle Touch and dictionaries.
Sponsors of the bee are the Lee/Ogle Regional Office of Education, 1st National Bank of Amboy and Sauk Valley Media.