One of six Minnesota youngsters advanced to the finals of the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in suburban Washington.
Thomas York, an eighth-grader from Rochester, was the only Minnesotan to advance from the written spelling and vocabulary test. The 14-year-old is from St. Francis of Assisi School. Participants needed a score of at least 29 to be among the 40 who advanced to Thursday.
Before that on Wednesday, the Minnesota contingent came out strong while competing on live television, spelling their words correctly during the national telecast on ESPN3.
Eighth-grader Rose Han, of Staples, spelled “incipient,” seventh-grader Briana Joseph, of Fairmont, nailed “gigabyte,” seventh-grader Ainsley Boucher, of Crookston, ticked off “menagerie,” seventh-grader Will Rooke, of Deephaven, rolled through “blatherskite,” York got “radiolarian” right, and eighth-grader Meryl Tigenoah, of Baxter, had no problem with “dodecarchy.”
In the afternoon, Joseph got “forbiddance” right. Han followed and correctly spelled “thistledown.” Later, Boucher was able to spell “discreditable,” Rooke stayed alive with “conceptism,” York got “taxonomic” and Tigenoah nailed “cadence.”
All 291 spellers got an opportunity to spell on stage, and those who missed heard the dreaded bell signaling elimination.
On Thursday, the early rounds of the finals will be carried on ESPN2, with the closing rounds moving Thursday evening to the more widely watched ESPN.
Last year’s longest-lasting Minnesotan was Max Meyer, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Minnetonka Middle School East. He breezed through his first three words on the final day before the fourth word (dulia) tripped him up.
The National Spelling Bee started in 1925 with nine contestants. Minnesota has had one national champion, Sean Conley of Shakopee, in 2001.