Twelve-year-old Mary Jo Johnson of Fairborn correctly spelled “indigenous” and “phalanges” in the second and third rounds of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee but was not among the 49 spellers who advanced to Thursday’s semi-final round.
To advance, contestants had to spell two words correctly and do exceptionally well on a written test.
Johnson, a seventh-grader at Baker Middle School, was among 285 spellers who competed in the national competition.
Lipika Narisetti, 12, sponsored by the Ohio University Libraries and a seventh-grader at the Hilliard Heritage Middle School near Columbus, reached the semi-finals, which will be televised on ESPN 2 Thursday afternoon.
ESPN will televise the finals from 8 p.m. through 10 p.m. Thursday.
Johnson, the champion of this year’s Dayton Daily News’ Regional Spelling Bee, said the key to surviving a spelling bee is “constant repetition. Just over and over and over again.”
She studied at least one hour every day and at times spent three hours daily going over the words.
The words got tougher as the day went on, with spellers in Wednesday’s third round missing words like “Plantagenet,” which was the last name of the English Royal Family from King Henry II in 1154 to King Richard III in 1485; and Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.
The second round had its light-hearted moments. When Ankita Vadiala, 13, of Virginia was asked to spell the word “geta” – which means Japanese wooden clogs for outdoor wear, she jokingly replied, “Any chance you could just give me the spelling and make my life easier?”
After the laughter stopped, she correctly spelled the word.
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