Sibling spell-off: Durham sisters head to regional competition

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Bettie and Hannah Closs talk to ABC11's Julie Wilson about the upcoming regional spelling bee (WTVD)

After a spell-off that ended in a stalemate, two sisters from Durham are heading to the regional spelling bee.

ABC11 sat down with the girls on Sunday to find out how they're preparing for their history-making debut next Saturday.

Studying words like it's a full-time job, the Closs sisters say they spend around 30 hours per week poring over their word lists.

Bettie and Hannah Closs faced off at the Lucas Middle School spell-off in January. After a heated back-and-forth competition, the match ended in a tie between the sisters.That's never been done before in North Carolina.

READ MORE: Durham sisters engage in epic spelling bee showdown

"We were not surprised at all. Bettie and Hannah are incredible spellers," said Duke University spelling bee sponsor Lou Rollins.

The stalemate is sending the sisters, who are only a year apart in age, to the regionals on March 11.

The sisters are each familiar with around 70,000 words, and not all of the words are English. There are words in several other languages they must study before they head to the stage.

Bettie finished 15th our of 285 contestants overall last year on the national stage - a stage she and her sister hope to share this year.

"That would just be fun, like super fun," Bettie shared. "And we could both go to nationals, both wear the speller badgers, and it would just be cool to do something that no one else has done."

"And you would have someone to talk to and you won't be alone," Hannah replied.

"And we could have someone to talk to while we are sitting on the stage so we won't be sitting there for hours and hours and hours on the stage!" Bettie added.

The regional spelling bee starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. Sixty students representing schools from two counties will compete to land a trip to nationals.

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