WASHINGTON,May 29 – Russ Bian,of Abilene,Texas,spelled “rupestrian” correctly in Round 2 of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Thursday,but it wasn't enough to earn him a spot in Round 3 on Friday.
He needed 20 points to advance,but earned only 13 from Rounds 1 and 2. Rupestrian is an adjective meaning composed of rock: inscribed in rocks.
The 10-year-old Thomas Elementary School student took the loss in stride.
“I am sort of relived – I don't have to study 24/7,” Russ said.
His mother,Qing Bian,and sister watched him spell from the audience Thursday.
“I felt nervous because he never saw that word before,” she said.
Round 2 consisted of spelling one word on stage. Russ won three points for his correct spelling,which was added to the score of his Round 1 written exam. Ninety spellers qualified for the quarterfinals.
“I felt tired on stage waiting for my turn – it felt like 10 years” Russ said.
“I am proud of him. He did his best – studying every day. We are all proud of him,” said Qing Bian,Russ' mother.
Russ said he has studied a little over an hour each day for a month or two – focusing on the pronunciation and spelling of words. He studied words from Merriam-Webster's Web site. His father and sister helped him study.
His father,Junhui Bian,an associate professor of biology at Abilene Christian University,wasn't present. He sent a letter with words of encouragement for his son to open Thursday.
Quin Bian said her husband told him,”You can't control winning. You can control doing your best.”
Russ said he remembered another piece of advice: “If you think about winning all the time,joy only lasts for a few minutes.”
Russ isn't the only speller in his family. His 12-year-old sister,Jan,advanced to the regional bee last year.
“I am disappointed. He did his best and that is all that matters,” Jan said.
“Russ is a winner … his ability to learn makes him a winner,” said Connie Mann,coordinator of Thomas Elementary School's Spelling Bee and K-2 basic skills teacher. The school sent her and the librarian to be part of Russ' cheering section.
Russ missed the last week of school to participate in the spelling bee. His summer plans include hanging out with friends and swimming.
“You can always be with your fiends – but you can't always visit the Grand Hyatt,” Russ said after the competition..
Asked if he would like to come back next year,he said,”Maybe.”
Instead of watching the rest of the spelling bee,he said he planned to sightsee. He took advantage of a tour of Annapolis,Md.,offered to spellers earlier in the week.
Russ was one of 288 spellers who descended on the Nation's Capital to compete in the spelling bee. According to Scripps,this is the greatest number of spellers in the event's 81-year history.
Live coverage of the semifinals will be on ESPN Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The finalists will compete in the championship round Friday,which will be aired live on ABC from 8 to 10 p.m.
The winner will receive a $30,000 cash prize and an engraved trophy from Scripps,a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a reference library from Merriam-Webster,$5,000 from Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation and reference works valued at more than $3,800 from Encyclopaedia Britannica.