WASHINGTON – David Tidmarsh was declared the winner of the 77th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee June 3 by correctly spelling “gaminerie” in Round 14 and then “autochthonous.”
At the end,David and two other finalists spelled through three rounds,and then David and the runner-up went for two more rounds.
His moment of victory sparked an eruption of cheers from the crowd,as David covered his face with his competition number placard before he shed tears of joy.
“I was so nervous I couldn't even begin to explain it,” David said at a press conference immediately after winning.
David,14,of South Bend,Ind.,is an eighth grader at the Edison Intermediate Center. He tied for 16th in the 2003 spelling bee.
David will receive a $12,000 prize,and he was interviewed live on ESPN,which televised the championship rounds.
Franklin Electronic Publishers will also contribute a $5,000,and David will receive a set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica,some other books and a $1,000 savings bond from Merriam-Webster. Kenneth W. Lowe,president and CEO of the E.W. Scripps Co.,handed David a huge golden trophy.
David received tough competition from the second-place finisher,Akshay Buddiga,of Colorado Springs. Akshay's costly error was misspelling “schwarmerei,” in Round 14. Earlier,Akshay fainted on stage before spelling his word correctly to a standing ovation.
After Akshay's mistake,David had to spell two words correctly to be declared the winner. “Gaminerie” means impudent,rougish or a wisecracking spirit,and “autochthonous” refers to indigenous people,animals or plants.
During one commercial break,before the pivotal rounds,David sat by himself in the middle of the stage. Hunched over in suspense,he tapped his white tennis shoes. This picture is symbolic of David's journey to the top,which he said included a perfect score on the Round 1,25-word written test. Spellers needed a score of 17 to advance to Round 2.
“I did it by myself,” David said at a press conference after the event. “I hate to say it,but I did. I went through every page in the dictionary.”
Jan Pilarski,David's mom,whose tears of joy were visible on television,remembered what would be the beginning of his historic fascination with the English language.
“He has always loved to read,ever since he was a little boy,” Pilarski said. “I realized that he was teaching himself to read when he was 3. He would recognize signs when we were driving down the street,and I said,‘Oh that's interesting.' He has always initiated many things on his own.”
She added,“We are thrilled to be here representing South Bend and doing it on behalf of The Tribune.”
David has memories of a single moment that fueled his own urge to examine the English language.
“In fifth grade,they gave us a study list for the regional spelling bee,” David said. “I went over them,I studied all of their definitions … and just I started to fall in love with words.”
Now that David is too old to compete again,he had some advice for future spelling bee competitors: “Study hard,and if you don't know the word,just keep it simple.”