MARYLAND May 29 — Nearly 500 word wizards were still in contention today as the Scripps National Spelling Bee entered its second day, as the best young spellers strive for the top cash prize of US$50,000 (RM209,775).
Some 562 youngsters aged seven to 15 faced off at the start of the tournament in Maryland yesterday to tease out vocabulary in dictionary perfection for the three-day challenge.
The word means an Italian cathedral.
Jackie Meador, 13, of Marbelton, Wyoming, got it right and advanced to the second day of competition.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking,” said Meador, who won his first spelling bee in third grade. “When I won the school bee and beat the fifth graders, I realised I might be good at it.”
“I just want to make it to the finals. That’s my goal,” he added.
Spellers still competing had to ace common words, such as “intolerable” and “detrimental”, along with more obscure words, such as “annus mirabilis” and “hibernaculum”.
Brody Krause, 10, of Thornton, Colorado, did not fare as well yesterday, departing the stage after misspelling “parochialism”.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Krause, competing for the first time at the tournament, which began in 1925.
Krause spent his own money on a dictionary to prepare for the bee, which this year drew spelling aces from all 50 US states, US territories and six other countries — the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
Standing at a mere 4 feet 4 inches tall, Akash Vukoti, 9, sparked smiles from fans yesterday afternoon when he commented on the microphone stand as it automatically lowered to match his height.
“I like this mic!” he exclaimed, before successfully spelling ranunculus — a type of plants — with seconds to spare.
Vukoti, a native of San Angelo, Texas, tied for 323rd place in last year’s bee. He is competing this year alongside his sister, Amrita Vukoti, 11.
“Even before kids come to this bee, they are already winners because they have acquired a lot of knowledge,” said their father, Krishna Vukoti, who enrolled his son in his first spelling bee at age 2.
“It’s a lot of dedication from our side, combined with his talents,” he said.
The event, which concludes tomorrow, takes place at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, Maryland. — Reuters