From left are TaMerra Edwards, Craig Ulrey, and Joshua Thorpe.

Craig Ulrey Wins Ball State PBS Regional Spelling Bee

MUNCIE, IND. — Craig Ulrey, a seventh grader from Heritage Hall Christian School in Muncie, is the champion of the 2023 Ball State PBS Regional Spelling Bee.

Ulrey’s winning word was “condensation.”

The competition, involving 37 spellers from 29 area school systems, lasted nineteen nerve-racking rounds.

The first runner-up is Joshua Thorpe from East Washington Academy in Muncie. The second runner-up is TaMerra Edwards from Lee L. Driver Middle School in Winchester.

Spellers competed at Sursa Hall on March 11 in the competition that will be broadcast on Ball State PBS at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, March 18, and at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 23. It will also be streamed on the Ball State Public Media mobile app and the PBS App.

Felicia Gray, an educator from Burris Laboratory School and the 2019 PBS KIDS Early Learning Champion, served as the pronouncer for the competition.

The judges — tasked with tracking every word and verifying spelling accuracy — were Kamna Agarwal, a past spelling bee coach and occupational therapist; Stephanie Wiechmann, IPR managing editor and host and Alesya Rathinasamy, former Ball State PBS Regional Spelling Bee Champion. Spellers studied Words of the Champions, the 4,000-word list provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Ulrey now advances to compete in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee this summer near Washington, D.C. The semifinals on May 31 and the finals on June 1 will be televised on ION and Bounce.

In addition to qualifying for the national competition, Ulrey also wins these prizes:

  • The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award is a 2023 United States Mint Proof Set provided by Jay Sugarman, chairman and CEO of iStar Financial, in honor of his father. Ulrey will receive the prize in the summer.
  • The Britannica Online Premium is a one-year subscription for the premier online resource from Encyclopædia Britannica.
  • The Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online is a one-year subscription for the official word source for all levels of competition for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Ball State PBS Spelling Bee Champion Trophy, Ray Ban Sunglasses with case from Family Vision Care, $50 Visa gift card, hat and T-shirt from Sam Pierce Chevrolet, $25 gift card from Dave’s Video Muncie, $25 cake gift certificate from Baskin Robbins of Muncie, $10 gift certificate from The Clubhouse Muncie, and a Ball State University Teachers College prize pack.

“Ball State PBS is proud to present the 2023 Regional Spelling Bee. This is just one example of us living our mission to connect people to educational experiences and trusted stories,” said Dr. Phil Hoffman, General Manager for Ball State Public Media. “Congratulations to all our spellers for being so splendiferous, prodigious, ingenious, and otherwise stupendous,” Hoffman added.

Ball State PBS has sponsored the regional bee event for seven years. The competition encourages the exploration of words and lifelong curiosity, with a focus on helping students set goals and dedicate time to study and prepare. Participation in the bee program also provides an opportunity for students to gain experience in public speaking and poise under pressure.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee provides the list of words for the regional competition. The Bee reaches millions of students across the country and in other parts of the world with the classroom materials it provides to enrolled schools.

The Ball State PBS Regional Spelling Bee is presented by Family Vision Care. The school fees sponsor is Ball State University Teachers College. The T-shirt sponsor is Navient Community Fund. The Championship word sponsor is Muncie Optimist Club.

Additional support provided by Avila Orthodontics, The Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities, Sam Pierce Chevrolet, Scott E. Trout DDS, and Wilhoite Family Dental.

About Ball State PBS:

A PBS Member station licensed to Ball State University, Ball State PBS serves an audience of nearly 1.5 million people across 27 counties of east central Indiana and western Ohio. Ball State PBS connects people to educational experiences and trusted stories. Visit for more information.

About the Scripps National Spelling Bee:

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, having launched in 1925. Visit for more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company.

For more information about the Ball State PBS Spelling Bee, contact

Dottie Kreps
Interim Spelling Bee Director and Producer/Director