By AMIE PARNES
Scripps Howard News Service
June 02, 2005
Washington - There was only one light moment Thursday morning as the number of spellers dwindled and the tension mounted by the minute, with words like " sphygmomanometer" and "exanthematic."
That moment came when 14-year-old Katherine Seymour, of Huntingtown, Md., approached the microphone at the Scripps National Spelling Bee unsure of the word, "incunabula," presented to her by the judge.
Along with the origin of the word and the definition, she asked, only half-jokingly, "And how do you spell that?" The comment drew laughter from the audience.
But, with the pressure of live television and the crowning of the spelling champ just hours away, 15 students heard the dreaded bell in round 5, signaling that they were eliminated from the competition.
The round had started with 51 students and was down to 36 when it ended. Another seven spellers were eliminated in the early stages of round 6.
Students, like Meg Mathis, of Memphis, Tenn., made small mistakes. The 14-year-old spelled the word "thurible," a censer used in religious services, with an "a" instead of an "i." The audience groaned and cameras came in for close ups as Dovie Eisner, 13, of Miami, spelled the word "anatocism," -the taking of compact interest- with an "i" instead of an "o." He threw his fists down in disappointment as he left the stage.
In the 6th round, Laura Ann Brown, of Birmingham, Ala., who flawlessly spelled her words in previous rounds, was stumped with the word, "tropholytic, "meaning related to, or being the deeper part of a lake in which dissimilation of organic matter tends to predominate.
But for students who spelled their words correctly, there was excitement mixed with relief. Evan O'Dorney, of Walnut Creek, Calif., who spelled the words, "insessorial," meaning perching or adapted for perching, and "jalousie," a blind or shutter having horizontal slats- ran back to his seat with his hands in the air, high-fiving the other contestants. When the short boy with spiked hair and glasses sat down, he exhaled. "I made it!" he mouthed.
Katie Brown, of Stuart, Fla., who is making her fourth spelling bee appearance, correctly spelled the word "ipseity," meaning, individual identity or selfhood, after having trouble pronouncing the word.
"Is it ip-seity or ib-seity?" she asked the judge.
"The first," he responded.
She spelled the word and closed her eyes, praying for a miracle. And when she opened them, she heard applause.
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