One Minnesota youngster spelled both of his words correctly in Thursday's nationally televised semifinals of the 71st Scripps National Spelling Bee in suburban Washington, D.C., but that wasn't enough to qualify him for the finals.

Maxwell Meyer, a seventh-grader at Minnetonka Middle School East, easily spelled his first word of the day, "colcha," a wool-embroidered coverlet of Mexican origin. He came back later in the morning and greeted pronouncer Jacques Bailly with a "hello, again."

With only a slight pause of contemplation, the 13-year-old correctly spelled "railleur," one given to good-natured ridicule.

However, Maxwell was not among the 10 finalists because he failed to earn enough points in the vocabulary testing portion of the competition.

Another Minnesotan, Christine Farnberg, an eighth-grader at Holy Spirit School in Rochester, approached the microphone earlier Thursday but was tripped up by "Syrette," a small, collapsible tube fitted with a hypodermic needle for injecting a single dose of a medicinal agent (such as morphine).

In the end, the Spelling Bee ended in a tie for an unprecedented two years running. Gokul Venkatachalam and Vanya Shivashankar shared the title.

Vanya is the first sibling of a past champion to win. Her sister, Kavya, won in 2009. Vanya's final word was "scherenschnitte." After being informed he'd be the co-champion if he got the next word right, Gokul didn't even ask the definition before spelling "nunatak."

Minnesota has had one national champion, Sean Conley of Shakopee, in 2001.


'irreplaceable': For more than three decades, U2's beloved tour manager, Dennis Sheehan, kept the band running on time. Sheehan died early Wednesday, just hours after U2 kicked off the Los Angeles portion of its latest tour. But promoters vowed the shows would go on in his memory, and they'd be on schedule. U2 frontman Bono posted a statement on the band's website in honor of Sheehan. "We've lost a family member, we're still taking it in," Bono wrote. "He wasn't just a legend in the music business, he was a legend in our band. He is irreplaceable."

case closed: For the first time in nearly eight years, Lindsay Lohan is not on probation. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Young on Thursday ended Lohan's probation in a reckless driving case, closing the last of a series of criminal cases that have dogged the actress for years. Young said he reviewed community service logs and determined Lohan, 28, completed her sentence. She did not attend the hearing.

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