WASHINGTON – Even though Holly Duitsman of Hinkley,Calif.,was among the first contestants eliminated from this week's 77th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee,she shed no tears.
She did not enter what everyone called the “crying room,” a room designated for contestants to compose themselves after being eliminated from competition.
“I'm fine. There was a lot of tough competition,” said Holly,13. “I'm proud to be on of the 265 kids that made it here.”
Her mother,Martha Duitsman,agreed. “We are just happy that she made it this far. How many millions of kids compete in the regional bees to get here?”
Holly completed Round 1,a written test,and Round 2,the first oral round,in which she missed her word,“prolegomenon.” After Round 2,just 94 contestants remained.
Holly said she was not nervous until she got to the microphone but nerves simply got the best of her. “I'm surprised I missed it,” Holly said. “I knew it.”
She said that once she got to the microphone she immediately wanted to go back to her seat to “get it over with.”
Holly and her mom remained in those seats for a long time. They continued to root for the other spellers and were protective of their “good seats,” said Holly's mother.
“We haven't missed any of the spelling bee at all,” she said at the beginning of the final day of competition June 3. “We have been here for all of it. We cheer for everybody. When someone misses you're like,‘Ah!' You feel bad for everyone that misses.”
Duitsman said she likes the new competition format,which moved the written exam to the first round.
“Every kid gets to participate in the first two rounds,” she said. “At least the kids still feel like they were a part of it. It gives more kids that chance to experience the whole thing.”
David Tidmarsh,from South Bend,Ind.,was crowned the winner of the competition after 15 rounds. The runner up,Akshay Buddiga,of Colorado Springs,Colo.,spelled the word “alopecoid” correctly seconds after fainting in Round 6. Buddiga lasted eight more rounds.
Duitsman wanted to thank the Desert Dispatch in Barstow,Calif.,for sponsoring her daughter. Holly won local competitions in both the sixth and seventh grades,but did not get the chance to travel to Washington until this year as an eighth grader.
Holly's performance could be the beginning of a special spelling bee tradition at Hinkley School. Holly will no longer be able to compete because she will enter the ninth grade. In high school,she plans to play tennis and volleyball.
“I think it has gotten bigger every year,” Duitsman said. “I think from here on,it's going to be big because now there is a chance to win the trip here and be a part of the national spelling bee.”
And Holly had some advice for future competitors: “People in Barstow – study hard for next year.”