WASHINGTON — It was hot in the nation’s capital, but Maine’s top speller was as cool as a cucumber Monday as she waited for the start of the national spelling bee.
Imogen Page, an eighth-grader at Blue Hill Consolidated School, won the state spelling bee in March, and she flew to Washington on Saturday to compete in the national contest, which begins today. This is the second time the 14-year-old has competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“I’ve studied a bit today,” Imogen said in a telephone call Monday from her hotel room. “I’ve been making word lists and chatting with other spellers. But I’m relaxed. It’s much easier the second time around.”
Imogen made it into the quarterfinals last year and hopes to make it into the semifinals this year. She is the daughter of Clifton Page and Lucy Benjamin of East Blue Hill.
As speller No. 116, Imogen, along with the other 292 contestants, will take the Round One written tests today. Spellers will have to spell 50 words, of which 25 will count toward their preliminary scores. But they won’t know which ones.
The written round will be followed by an oral test in which each speller will go onstage and spell two words. Based on the combined scores, oral and written, judges will narrow the field to just 50 spellers who will continue into the semifinal round Thursday morning.
The spellers take the written test on a computer, which is fine with Imogen.
“I like working on a computer,” she said.
All the same, she said, it will be good to have the written test behind her.
“At that point, my fate will have been decided,” she said. “After that, you can relax a little.”
Imogen said Monday afternoon that she has a certain routine she will follow. First, early to bed on Monday night, after possibly talking to a few friends. In the morning, she will take a cod-liver oil tablet — which she does regularly — followed by a breakfast of a salmon bagel.
“The most important thing is early to bed,” she said.
The finals of the national spelling bee, which is sponsored by the Scripps Newspapers, will be held Thursday night.