OXON HILL, Md. – The Scripps National Spelling Bee eradicated from the field to the real elite players Wednesday during the grueling preliminary rounds. Each of the 291 players the chance to spell two words onstage. Those who don’t misspell a word were then at the mercy of their score on a written spelling and vocabulary test they took on Tuesday, with the top 50 advancing to Thursday’s final.
Here are some of the memorable moments of Wednesday’s action.
Six-year-old Edith Fuller of Tulsa, Oklahoma, had to spell words as difficult as those of anyone in the National Spelling Bee. But she got a lodging for her young age.
Players were assigned numbers in a random draw this year, and Edith, the youngest speller in the history of a competition where children up to the age of 15, got No. 290 — making her the second-to-last player to reach the microphone.
When her group of players on the stage, Edith was conspicuously absent, her chair empty. They came more than halfway through the 2 hour tour, and sat with her feet dangling over the edge of the chair.
Her parents have been granted permission of Scripps to let Edith spend part of her time outside of the stage while waiting to games.
“A 6-year-old, sitting in one place, not interacting with anyone, to two hours is the equivalent of torture,” said her father, Justin Fuller. “The spelling bee, the people who are running, are very sensitive to the special needs of all parts of the spectrum, and this request was hastily housed.”
Added her mother, Annie Fuller: “This is a girl who has trouble sitting through a Disney movie.”
Edith had nothing to hide during a press conference where she was asked to explain why she loves spelling, a list of her favorite animals and share stories about the fun times that they shared with other players. They offered three-to-five-word answers before her head shy away from the microphone. When they have a follow-up question that they do not understand or care to answer, they will simply be ignored. It was a performance reminiscent of a restless, Russell Westbrook, haughty to shoot reporters at NBA press conferences.
Occasionally she murmured a gem. At one point, apropos of nothing, she said that she was hoping to invent a new kind of refrigerator.
As for the spelling, they handled with apparent ease, at least in the first round. Her word was “nyctinasty,” the movement of plants in response to the onset of darkness. Like the polished players at the best rate in the bees, she repeated the word several times and calmly asked for the definition and language of origin.
“I didn’t feel nervous,” Edith said. “I felt good, actually.”
THE EYE OF THE LION
Daniel Larsen of Bloomington, Indiana, wore a T-shirt with a realistic likeness of a lion. The animal’s eyes peered out menacingly behind the name of the placard hanging from his neck.
“I wore it for the regional spelling bee,” said Daniel, 13. “I thought it would bring me luck. I love lions, too.”
Daniel stood for a different reason. He is the only competitor to have successfully submitted a crossword puzzle from The New York Times. Are puzzle-ran this year.
“I’ve sent 20. They have used it. There are a few more that are in progress, so I hope,” he said.
Crossword puzzles are useful, also for the familiarity with a number of short, obscure words that sometimes trip players. Daniel said “rhea,” a large, flightless South American bird. The word is included in the course catalogue for the first time on the stage around, and came in the bee. Samuel Paul spelled correctly.
“You see it more in crosswords than in real life,” Daniel said.
ENJOY THE MOMENT
Players for the bees, with different goals. Some hope to make the top 50 or top 10. The best put in thousands of hours in an attempt to win it.
Some come for the bumble bee to have fun. Will Lourcey, 14, Fort Worth, Texas, fell into that category.
“I set a goal for myself to go to the National Spelling Bee. Now that I’ve achieved, I want to be here for the experience,” he said. “I’m not as hardcore or serious as some of the children. They study the dictionaries.”
The first was the word “Ruritanian,” and he seemed not to have much trouble with it. Still, he milked his time on stage, laughing and gestures enthusiastically as he asked for all the information about the word. He pumped his fists and gave a thumbs-up when he gave the concept of. Then he said that he never had the chance.
Will said he only “took a glance” on the study guide for words that would be used in the first round on the stage. “Ruritanian was one of the ones that I actually watched.”
It is admitted that he studied hard to win his regional bee. But he is worried about a number of children who do not take the time to enjoy their beer experience.
“Most of these children seem to be the proper functioning of the human being. I admire their complete dedication to the art,” he said. “I’d rather not have a computer, and go outside with a smile. The children devoted a lot of time and it is really admirable. It’s just not my style.”
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