Despite being letter-perfect on stage in the preliminary rounds, Avon’s Kaitlin Hall did not accumulate a high enough score to join the 46 spellers advancing to today’s semifinals of the 87th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.
“She was really hoping to improve on last year, but when they took a combination of the highest scores (from written tests and verbal competition), Kaitlin did not do well enough,” Matt Hall, her father, said late Wednesday night by phone from their Maryland hotel room.
“She seemed pretty disappointed,” he said of the 2014 Chronicle-Telegram spelling champion.
Hall said that while he shared his daughter’s obvious disappointment at not advancing for the second year in a row, he was grateful for the experience they were sharing.
“I’m just happy at what an amazing experience this has been,” Hall said.
In Wednesday’s preliminaries, Kaitlin, an Avon Middle School eighth-grader, correctly spelled “arachnid” and “manumit,” which is a word that means “free from slavery.”
Kaitlin also correctly used two words in the vocabulary portion of the contest.
Her words were “tonsorial,” which refers to barbering, and “kuruma,” a term used for transportation.
Hall said he and his daughter plan to be in the audience for the remainder of the competition.
“We hope we’ll get to see her commercials,” Hall said, referring to the spelling bee’s promotional TV spots Kaitlin and other contestants filmed earlier in the week for ESPN, the network televising the semi-final rounds 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. today on ESPN2, and the finals 8 to 10 p.m. today on ESPN.
On Friday, the pair will join other spellers and their families for tours of Washington, D.C., and a farewell banquet Friday night.