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Winner declared in rematch of marathon spelling bee

By Susanna Capelouto and Janet DiGiacomo, CNN
updated 5:34 PM EDT, Mon March 10, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Seventh grader Kush Sharma wins Kansas City spelling bee with the word "definition"
  • Two weeks ago, he and fifth grader Sophia Hoffman had exhausted all the words on the list
  • Sophia went out on the word "stifling"
  • "This is not the last we are going to see of Sophia," spelling bee official says

(CNN) -- The D-E-F-I-N-I-T-I-O-N of a good spelling bee may have forever changed in Missouri.

It took seventh grader Kush Sharma more than 90 rounds and two days -- separated by about two weeks -- to finally get the winning word.

He beat fifth grader Sophia Hoffman, who went out on the word "stifling," earning a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The two met February 22 at the Kansas City Public Library for the regularly scheduled competition, where they exhausted all the words on a list provided to the judges.

After more than 60 rounds, the match was halted without a winner.

"We didn't want to just go through the dictionary and give them more words," Mary Olive Thompson, outreach coordinator for Kansas City Public Library, said at the time. "We feared that someone would get a word that was too easy while the other would get an extremely difficult word. We wanted to be a bit more calculated and neutral, and we wanted to give each an equal opportunity."

But soon, Kush and Sophia were more than two young, ace spellers from Kansas City. They were national celebrities, appearing on CNN and ABC's "Good Morning America."

That made Saturday's rematch all that much bigger. The library couldn't contain those who came to watch and ended up setting up a live video stream so that about 100 spectators could watch from the lobby, Thompson said.

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And this might not be the last time Kush and Sophia duel in the spelling arena.

As Thompson noted, "both students are young enough -- they could face each other again" next year.

Until then, the event's organizers are celebrating what was a riveting, historic and -- in the end -- emotional edition of this year's bee.

"We got to know the kids; they are both great kids," Thompson said. "This is not the last we are going to see of Sophia."

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