News: Scripps National Spelling Bee
By Lacey Johnson
OXON HILL, Md. (Reuters) - Coolly acing such obscure words as "staphylinid," "amphipneustic" and "synecphonesis," 16 young contestants made it to the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday after five hours of tense competition.
Others in the field of 41 who made it to the third day of the event were escorted from the stage after misspelling words including "lignoperdous," "glycyrrhizin" and "cetacean."
“I knew almost all the words in Round 6, so I was really upset,” said Melodie Loya, 13, who forgot the silent “g” in the word "pignoli," a synonym for pine nuts. “But I did my best, and that’s all I can do.”
Loya, a seventh-grader from Bainbridge, New York, said she planned to study harder and return for next year’s competition. Students are allowed to compete through their eighth-grade year in school.
The 91st annual bee, which began on Tuesday and ends on Thursday night, opened with a field of more than 515 spellers, aged 8 to 15, hailing from across the United States and eight other countries. The competition in the Maryland suburbs of Washington will have a worldwide audience tuning in for a live broadcast of the finals on ESPN.
The 16 spellers who advanced represent the largest group ever included in the final broadcast round. The group is made up of nine girls and seven boys. Last year, 15 spellers advanced to that stage.
“I can tell my mom is pretty overwhelmed because this is my second time in the finals,” said Erin Howard, 13, from Huntsville, Alabama.
Last year, Howard tied for seventh place after misspelling the word "klydonograph," an instrument that photographs electric surges in power lines. She has since dedicated herself to studying at least three hours every weeknight and eight hours on weekends.
Howard, who started her spelling career by winning a county bee in third grade, said it felt “insane” to still be in the race. “There are pretty much no words to describe it,” she added.
All of the spellers making it to Thursday night’s finals will receive a cash prize of at least $2,000.
(Reporting by Lacey Johnson; Additional reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Cooney)