NATIONAL HARBOR, MD – Brooke Biby, 12, started the day at the Scripps National Spelling Bee by successfully spelling “protagonist,” the leading character or hero of a literary work. It was an apt word for someone who wants to be an author.
Brooke and her family traveled 1,200 miles by car from Omaha, Neb., to compete in the bee, but her journey stopped Wednesday. The student from Joslyn Elelmentary School in Omaha, Neb., didn’t qualify for the semifinals.
“I will do it over again next year,” Brooke said as she reunited with her family after she was eliminated. “ It was really fun.”
The 283 contestants were split into two groups by their assigned bee numbers, and Brooke, with No. 142, was the last in her group to spell.
“I got tired of waiting,” she said. “I was just nervous because I didn’t want to misspell my word.”
While the second half of the Round 2 was underway, Brooke spent time with her family preparing for Round 3.
When they returned to the ballroom, she successfully spelled “mascarpone,” an Italian cheese made from cream, lemon juice, vinegar and citric acid.
“She wanted a bigger word to spell,” Susan Biby, her mother, said. “She wanted a chance to show off, but I’m just glad she spelled her word correctly.”
Although Brooke spelled both words correctly on stage, she didn’t score well enough in Tuesday’s written test to advance to the semifinals.
“The written test was really, really hard,” she said. “Now it’s time for the banquet on Friday!”
Brooke and her family were in high spirits after the competition concluded.
This trip might be almost over, but the family is already planning to return next year. Brooke remains eligible to compete again, and her little sister, Chloe, turned 9 and is now eligible to enter.
“Chloe is really good,” Lovella Biby, her grandmother, said. “ She is just as good as Brooke and it will be interesting to see who takes the regional title when both sisters are competing against each other.”
All 283 spellers appeared on stage Wednesday morning for Round 2, the first oral round. Only four spellers missed their words, and were out of the bee. By the end of Round 3 in the afternoon, 214 spellers remained. In both rounds, all the words came from a list of 1,000 study words.
At the close of Round 3, bee officials combined the scores earned by spellers in Tuesday’s written test and points earned spelling on stage to choose 49 semifinalists. After taking a second written test Wednesday evening, they will compete Thursday beginning at 10 a.m. EDT on ESPN2.
The finals will air Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN. The winner takes home $35,000 in cash, a trophy and other prizes. All of the spellers were given Microsoft Surface 3 tablet computers to close Wednesday’s program.
Reach reporter Eric Perry at [email protected] or 202-408-1493. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.