April 17, 2014

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Lorain County spelling bee contestant advances in national competition

Wearing a T-shirt with the word “Spellebrity,” Kaitlin Hall admits that her head is buzzing with words.

Kaitlin Hall meets Jacques Bailly, the National Spelling Bee’s head pronouncer and himself the 1980 bee champion, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Matt Hall.)

Kaitlin Hall meets Jacques Bailly, the National Spelling Bee’s head pronouncer and himself the 1980 bee champion, in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. (Photo courtesy of Matt Hall.)

Kaitlin, a seventh-grader from Avon Middle School and the daughter of Matt and Kathy Hall, is one of 281 spellers participating in the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee competition this week in Washington, D.C.

During Tuesday’s preliminary tests, she had to correctly spell “omphaloskepsis,” which means “naval gazing,” as in looking at your belly button. She also had to correctly define “tropomyosin,” which is a protein of the muscle.

Wednesday morning she spelled “renaissance” correctly to advance, according to the bee’s Twitter account.

Her dad, Matt Hall, said he has never heard of many of the words on the spelling list, let alone known their definition or word of origin.

But the father-daughter duo is learning together along the way.

“I have been studying when I have down time,” Kaitlin said Tuesday night.

However, “down time” isn’t something you have when vying to be a champion.

On Tuesday, Kaitlin completed her preliminary online testing in both vocabulary and spelling.

“She felt really good about her vocabulary results, but thought the spelling was very difficult,” her dad said. “She looked up some of the difficult words, and she missed at least two words.”

Last year, a contestant who missed four or fewer questions moved on to the semifinals. Kaitlin will find out today if she scored high enough to move on.

“We’ll keep our fingers crossed that she does well on stage (today) for the remainder of the preliminaries,” Matt Hall said.

After the preliminaries, the top scores will be tallied and about 50 spellers will advance to the semifinal which will air on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. Thursday.

The top 12 contestants move on to compete for the finals to be aired at 8 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.

The preliminaries can be viewed online at www.espn3.com.

Yet even Kaitlin agrees that she has reached the point where she has studied as much as she can.

“My mind is full,” she said.

Contact Melissa Linebrink at 329-7155 or mlinebrink@chroniclet.com.