Washington County spelling champ: 'I tried my hardest'

June 01, 2011|By MARIE GILBERT |
  • Tyler Reese deliberates Wednesday in Round Three of the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington D.C. He misspelled 'algorithm.' Tyler is an eighth-grade student at Heritage Academy.
By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Word selection at a spelling bee is the luck of the draw.

One bad break, and it’s the difference between winning the contest or going home.

Tyler Reese’s competitive run at the Scripps National Spelling Bee came to an end Wednesday afternoon during Round 3 when he was presented with the word algorithm — a set of numbers that determines calculations.

“I had heard the word, but I couldn’t exactly remember how to spell it,” the 14-year-old said.

Asking for a definition and language of origin, Tyler gave it a try,  coming up with algorythym.

“I thought there was a chance I might have it right,” he said.  “But, unfortunately, I didn’t.

“I feel disappointed,” Tyler said.  “But I think I did pretty well.  I tried my hardest.”

A resident of Greencastle, Pa., Tyler is an eighth-grader at Heritage Academy in Hagerstown and was this year’s Washington County Spelling Bee champion.

He is one of 275 students participating in the weeklong spelling event at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor in Prince George’s County.

The first of three preliminary rounds began on Tuesday with a written test that featured one point for each correct spelling. Tyler scored 21 out of 25.

Rounds 2 and 3 were held Wednesday morning.  There were no eliminations for misspellings.  Instead, spellers earned three points for each correctly spelled word.

During Round 2, Tyler took to the stage, this time facing a panel of judges and cameras from ESPN, the sports network airing the bee.

Tyler successfully spelled his first word, escarole — a broad-leafed endive.

“I thought it was fairly easy compared to some of the words other kids were getting,” he said afterward.

Even though he misspelled his word in Round 3, Tyler was hopeful he might have enough combined points to make it to the next round — the semifinals — and, eventually, be the last speller standing.

But he was not among the 41 semifinalists.

Still, he said: “I’ve had a good time.  I feel pretty amazing.”

Tyler said being on a big stage for the spelling bee made him a little nervous.

“But it wasn’t too bad,” he admitted.  “I just focused on spelling.  It was a good experience.”

Tyler said he had a cheering section during rounds 2 and 3, including his family and a number of students who made the trip from Heritage Academy.

In addition to the spelling bee, Tyler said he’s been having fun this week with activities that have been offered to participants and their families, including sightseeing tours and a barbecue.

He’s also had an opportunity to meet people he might not have met otherwise.

“I’ve made some friends,” he said.

Tyler will receive a $100 U.S. savings bond and Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, on CD ROM.

The semifinals will air live on ESPN from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, and the championship finals will air on ESPN beginning at 8:30 p.m.

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