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Hawaii spelling bee champ honored to reach final day of competition

  • COURTESY MARK BOWEN / SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE

    Hawaii contestant Ameera Waterford competes today in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland.

Hawaii spelling bee champion Ameera Waterford made it to the final day of competition, but slipped on the word “glacis.”

“Aloha, Dr. Bailly,” Waterford said to the pronouncer after the bell rang to eliminate her from the competition today. “I’m good, kind of.”

In a blog post on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website, the 14-year-old eighth grader from Maui said she wasn’t expecting to make it as far as she did.

“It’s an honor,” she said. “It’s nice to have almost a whole state rooting for you. It’s a small place, so it’s very personal.”

“Ameera’s always been a big fish in a little pond,” said her mother, Anita Waterford. “It’s nice to see her on a national stage.”

“Glacis,” the word that tripped Waterford up, means a slope that runs downward from a fortification, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Waterford is from Emmanuel Lutheran School in Kahului.

She’s also a basketball player and will be playing in a tournament in Honolulu when she gets back to Hawaii.

The final round of competition will be broadcast tonight on ESPN.

Ten spellers are left after this morning’s four-hours of spelling.

Scripps made some rule changes to make the competition more difficult, and it was evident in the first round today, when 24 out of 45 spellers got their words wrong.

Two spellers made the top 10 for the second straight year: 13-year-old Sylvie Lamontagne of Lakewood, Colorado; and 13-year-old Snehaa Kumar of Folsom, California. But Tejas Muthusamy of Glen Allen, Virginia, who made the top 10 the last two years, was eliminated.

Two 11-year-olds made the top 10. Either would be the youngest winner on record.

The winner gets more than $45,000 in cash and prizes.

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The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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