WASHINGTON,May 30 – Jake A. Smith,12,of Highlands Ranch,Colo.,misspelled “piroplasmosis” Wednesday and was eliminated in the fourth round of the 80th Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The word refers to a tick-borne infection,mainly in cattle.
Jake,sponsored by Denver's Rocky Mountain News,stood at the microphone and seemed unsure of the word given to him,but he proceeded to spell until a bell alerted him that his version,which began “p-y-r-r-h-i,” was wrong.
Maithreyi Gopalakrishnan,14,of Superior,Colo.,spelled “salinelle” to advance to the semifinals. Salinelle refers to a volcano erupting salty mud.
Maithreyi,sponsored by the Daily Camera in Boulder,moves to the next round Thursday with 58 other spellers from around the country.
Jake,the eighth speller to be eliminated in the fourth round,appeared to be doing just fine but said he was feeling the opposite when he heard the bell.
“It didn't feel too good,” Jake said. “I felt sad.”
Like many other spellers who were eliminated,Jake wants to enter the competition again next year if he can.
“It's fun to spell,and be in spelling competitions,” Jake said.
If he returns next year,he plans to do things differently. He studied for a few hours each day to prepare for this year's spelling bee,but for next year he would add to the list of things to study.
“I would study a lot more word lists,and study both Latin and Greek roots,” Jake said. “I didn't do it this year.”
Each speller had to get a score of at least 18 to advance to the third round. The oral round was worth 3,and Jake earned those points. The multiple choice written word test was worth 25 points,and Jake scored 17 out of the 25.
“There were some words that I guessed on,” Jake said. “But a little bit more than half,I knew.”
Although Jake did not advance to the semifinals,he had the support of his family and his fellow spellers. He isn't going home completely empty-handed,he's taking home new friendships made with the other spellers.
“I'm feeling the camaraderie between us,” Jake said.
He also will take home $175,a watch,a dictionary,a $100 savings bond and other prizes.
Before leaving the competition,Jake had some words of advice for the rest of the spellers.
“Just keep on going,” he said. “Spell what you can spell.”
On Thursday,the semi-finals will be televised in the morning on ESPN and the finals will be live on ABC from 8 to 10 p.m.