WASHINGTON — None of the three Nebraskans competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee advanced to the finals.
Payton Smidt, 12, of Beatrice made her second appearance of the week onstage Wednesday and correctly spelled “necrotype” — an extinct organism or group of organisms.
But in addition to spelling words correctly on stage, finalists also must score highly on a preliminary written exam. Only 50 spellers were advanced to the finals out of this year’s field of 565.
Among the spelling words on that written test: sobornost (spiritual harmony), epollicate (lacking a thumb) and avoirdupois (system of weights).
Smidt said nearly all the words on the written exam were unfamiliar to her. Still, she was positive on the experience overall.
“It’s really cool to be around these people from all over the place who have similar interests,” Smidt said.
Smidt qualified for the national competition, held at a resort just outside Washington, D.C., by winning this year’s Midwest Spelling Bee. A student at Tri County Junior/Senior High School in DeWitt, Nebraska, she was sponsored by The World-Herald.
A pair of Omahans also competed in the national bee thanks to the “RSVBee” wild-card system started last year as an alternate path to qualification that requires participants to pay their own expenses.
Both survived Tuesday’s on-stage spelling round.
But Immanuel Soh, 14, who is home-schooled, was tripped up Wednesday by the word “yuzu” — an aromatic citrus fruit whose acidic rind and juice are often used in Japanese cuisine.
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He spelled it “ouzu.”
Siri Doddapaneni, 11, of Brownell Talbot School, correctly spelled “provost” — a high-ranking university administrative officer.
But like Smidt, her written exam score was not high enough to advance her to the finals.
Doddapaneni was upbeat afterward, however, and looking ahead to the future.
“After making it this far, I’m more determined to come back really strong next year,” she said.
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Sue Violi, director of community relations for the Omaha World-Herald, left with the final four spellers. From left, Jacinta Flynn, 7th grade at Otte Middle School in Washington County; winner Payton Smidt, 12, from DeWitt, Nebraska, a 7th grader at Tri County Elementary; Hannah Fernandes, 6th grade, St. Stephen the Martyr School in Omaha; and Thanish Kashyap, 8th grade, Millard North Middle School in Omaha. On the right is the bee enunciator Dr. Charles Johanningsmeier with the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
Mandy Smidt hugs her daughter Payton Smidt after she won the bee by spelling the word "vitrine."
Payton Smidt, a seventh-grader at Tri County Public Schools, smiles Saturday as she realizes she has won the Midwest Spelling Bee.
The spelling bee trophy waits in the wings as the finalists begin the final round at the 2019 Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee held at Scottish Rite Masonic Temple at 202 S. 20th Street in Omaha on Saturday.
Aadhav Krishna, 6th grader at Sidney Public Schools/West at the mic with the other finalists behind, and the enunciator, Dr. Charles Johanningsmeier with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, at the podium on the right during the 2019 Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee.
Charles Johanningsmeier of the University of Nebraska at Omaha was master of ceremonies at the spelling bee, and also pronounced the words.
Finalists on stage at the 2019 Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee.
Aiden Anderson, an eighth grader at St. Paul Public School in Howard County, reacts to being eliminated in the final round of the 2019 Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee.
Riley Nothwehr, a 6th grader at Clarinda Lutheran School in Page County, Iowa, is all smiles as she talks with the bee enunciator, Dr. Charles Johanningsmeier with the University of Nebraska at Omaha, during the 2019 Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee.
Payton Smidt, 12, from DeWitt, Nebraska, a 7th grader at Tri County Elementary with her mother Mandy Smidt talking with reporters after winning.
Payton Smidt, 12, from DeWitt, Nebraska, a 7th grader at Tri County Elementary with her mother Mandy Smidt, right, reacting to not being able to remember Payton's winning word "vitrine" while talking with reporters after the 2019 Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee.
Payton Smidt, 12, from DeWitt, Nebraska, a seventh-grader at Tri County Public Schools, couldn’t remember her winning word after the Midwest Spelling Bee, prompting a laugh from her mother, Mandy Smidt.
Bee winner, Payton Smidt, 12, from DeWitt, Nebraska, a 7th grader at Tri County Elementary holds her trophy at the 2019 Omaha World-Herald Midwest Spelling Bee.