Scripps Spelling Bee Contestants Gear up for Final Round

In anticipation of yet another day of reciting words and patterns visualized in their heads or scribbled in their hands with their fingers, many of the 42 Scripps National Spelling Bee finalists wasted little time departing the ballroom stage Wednesday at the end of Round 3 at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in preparation of Thursday’s grand finale.

If they spell every word correctly, one of them — maybe two if there’s a tie — will be declared the 2018 winner.

“I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep [Wednesday night],” 13-year-old Nilla Rajan of Chillicothe, Ohio, excitedly confessed minutes after departing the huge stage she’d spent a lot of time on since arriving two days earlier at the National Harbor resort in Oxon Hill, Maryland.

In addition to making it to Round 3, Nilla, who is participating for the second time in the annual competition, walked off the stage with one of the 42 shiny gold medals that secured her place in competing Thursday’s spell-offs.

Nilla, who correctly spelled “resorb” (as in to absorb something again) to get the round, said she “really wasn’t that nervous,” having spent two days correctly spelling word after word before the crowds of parents, siblings, spelling coaches and other well-wishers.

“I just think that maybe it was the balance of the preliminaries that many of the words were simple everyday words which made it easier to spell them,” Nilla, a first-time finalist in the historic event, said when asked if she thought words posed like “Zumba,” “frigid” and “savant” were too casual.

The bee, which began Tuesday with 514 spellers, has drawn the largest number of contestants in its history. The spellers — many of middle-school age — are from across the country and around the world.

However, by the time Round 3 rolled around, the roster had dwindled to 322 contestants.

The 41 spellers who advanced to the finals had the most points in the preliminaries.

The bee will be broadcast Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on ESPN2 and from 8:30 p.m. to 10:30m p.m. on ESPN.

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Dorothy Rowley – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I knew I had to become a writer when at age nine I scribbled a note to my younger brother’s teacher saying I thought she was being too hard on him in class. Well, the teacher immediately contacted my mother, and with tears in her eyes, profusely apologized. Of course, my embarrassed mother dealt with me – but that didn’t stop me from pursuing my passion for words and writing. Nowadays, as a “semi-retiree,” I continue to work for the Washington Informer as a staff writer. Aside from that, I keep busy creating quirky videos for YouTube, participating in an actor’s guild and being part of my church’s praise dance team and adult choir. I’m a regular fixture at the gym, and I like to take long road trips that have included fun-filled treks to Miami, Florida and Jackson, Mississippi. I’m poised to take to the road again in early 2017, headed for New Orleans, Louisiana. This proud grandmother of two – who absolutely adores interior decorating – did her undergraduate studies at Virginia Union University and graduate work at Virginia State University.

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