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.
Paul walsh, ASSOCIATED PRESS
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