Maine’s spelling competitor eliminated from national bee

Posted May 27, 2009, at 8:53 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:07 p.m.

Maine’s sole contestant in the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington was eliminated Wednesday after the third round of the competition.

Forty-one of the record 293 entrants survived the preliminary rounds Tuesday and Wednesday to compete in the semifinals starting Thursday morning. The finals take place Thursday night, with the winner receiving more than $40,000 in cash and prizes.

Contacted by phone Wednesday evening, Imogen Page of East Blue Hill said the contest had gone “very well,” but that she had missed moving on to the semifinal round by just 3 points.

Page appeared on stage Wednesday with the nation’s top young spellers for the second and third rounds of the spelling bee. Each contestant was given two words to spell, one in each round, and the results were combined with scores from a written test taken Tuesday to determine who would advance.

Even though she correctly spelled both words she faced in Wednesday’s rounds, Page didn’t score well enough on the written test a day earlier to advance.

“I scored 25 points,” she said. “There were 41 that went on and they scored 28 points or more. I missed it by three points. But that’s all right.”

This was the second appearance at the national spelling bee for Page, an eighth-grade student at the Blue Hill Consolidated School.

Maine’s top speller brought a bit of levity to the bee as she tried to wring every bit of information she could from the official bee pronouncer during the second round Wednesday morning.

She had run through the standard questions about the word “cowardice” — its part of speech, pronunciation, using it in a sentence — and then tried one more question.

“Is there anything else you can tell me?” she asked.

Pronouncer Jacques Bailly replied: “It’s a nice day.”

Page handled the word with ease.

Wednesday’s first round was a breeze for most of the contestants — with words such as “lyric” and “custard” — but the second round was more difficult, with spellers stumbling over words such as “hepatomegaly” (HEHP-ah-toh-MEHG-ah-lee) and “guttiferous” (guht-TIF-er-us).

In that second round, Page correctly spelled the word “schadenfreude.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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