An eighth-grader from Portland, Maine, was out of the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland, after preliminary round competition Wednesday.
Lucy Tumavicus, 14, a student at Lincoln Middle School in Portland, did not make the field of 46 semifinalists who will compete Thursday, according to a list of qualifying students posted Wednesday night on the Spelling Bee’s website.
Tumavicus is the daughter of Ed and Megan Tumavicus. Tumavicus became Maine’s champion speller earlier this year, winning in the 94th round of competition by correctly spelling neurotogenic – a medical term relating to the inducement of neurosis.
“She is more relieved than disappointed,” Tumavicus’ mother, Megan, said late Wednesday night. “She feels really good about what she did.”
On Wednesday morning, during the national preliminary rounds, Tumavicus correctly spelled maraschino – a sweet liqueur made from cherries. In the afternoon, Tumavicus correctly spelled subreption – a deliberate misrepresentation.
However, a number of students passed the preliminary spelling test, which forced the judges to consider each speller’s scores from preliminary computer tests in spelling and vocabulary. Those tests were taken on Tuesday, and were used to determine who moved on to Thursday’s competition.
Tumavicus said her daughter’s scores on the spelling and vocabulary tests were not high enough to lift her into the semifinal rounds.
The semifinals will be broadcast from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday on ESPN2. The championship round will be televised live at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.
The winner of the bee gets more than $33,000 in cash and prizes.
Words such as “protege” and “gesundheit” and jokes about the George Foreman grill and the game Minesweeper were among the early highlights as the onstage preliminary rounds began Wednesday morning.
The Associated Press reported that with most spellers having no trouble with their words, the focus shifted more to the laugh-out-loud sentences that have become a regular part of the Bee in recent years. When Lillian Allingham of Hockessin, Delaware, asked for a sentence for “odyssey,” pronouncer Jacques Bailly made the audience chuckle by speaking of someone who “got lost in Costco for 35 minutes.”
“You should give sentences more often,” Isabel Cholbi of San Bernardino, California, told Bailly.
The word “coloratura” wound up in a sentence about someone getting their hand caught in a George Foreman grill.
Keshav Ramesh of South Windsor, Connecticut, was disappointed when his sentence for “debacle” was dry and routine.
“Can you use the word in a funny sentence please?” Keshav said.
There were also signs of nerves and lucky guesses. Speller No. 9, Eesha Sohail of Bakersfield, California, looked stunned when she correctly spelled “tchotchke” (a trinket) and received a high-five from another speller when she returned to her seat.
Among the favorites was Sriram Hathwar, a 14-year-old from Corning, New York, who placed third last year and is back for his fifth and final time. Another top contender is Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, who tied for fifth last year and whose sister, Kavya, won in 2009.