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.