An eighth-grader from Corona was eliminated in the 10th round of the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday evening, tying for 15th in her fourth and final bee.
Aisha Randhawa misspelled cuirassier, a mounted soldier wearing a cuirass, a piece of armor covering the body from neck to waist, ending the word eer instead of ier.
Aisha was among 16 spellers advancing to the closing portion of the bee, correctly spelling five words in the opening portion earlier Thursday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.
Aisha correctly spelled her first word in the closing portion, jabiru, a large tropical American stork with a massive black bill. All 16 spellers correctly spelled their ninth-round words. She was among two spellers misspelling their 10th-round words.
Nicholas D’Sa, an eighth-grader from Tustin in Orange County, was eliminated in the 12th round.
In the opening portion, Aisha correctly spelled epicede, a funeral song or ode, in the fourth round; kahili, a long pole decorated at one end with a cluster of feather plumes and used as a ceremonial emblem in Hawaii, in the fifth; thelytokous, an adjective meaning producing only females, in the sixth; chylocaulous, an adjective meaning having fleshy or succulent stems, used to describe cacti and similar plants, in the seventh; and lesche, a social gathering place of classical antiquity in the eighth.
The finals began Thursday with 50 spellers. The field was reduced to 40 following the fourth round, 34 following the fifth, 29 following the sixth, 25 following the seventh and 16 following the eighth.
To reach the finals, contestants had to correctly spell two words on stage and score high enough on a spelling and vocabulary test.
Aisha correctly spelled both of the words she was given Tuesday — agua fresca, a beverage consisting of water and sugar with fruits, grains or seeds added for flavoring, in the second round, and redoubtable, an adjective meaning causing fear or alarm, in the third round.
Aisha and her 561 fellow competitors took a multiple-choice test with 12 spelling words and 14 vocabulary questions on Monday. The test is considered the bee’s first round.
The finalists were determined by the test scores of the spellers who correctly spelled their third-round words. The finals are limited to a maximum of 50 spellers. Spellers’ scores are plotted on a chart beginning at 36. Spellers at each consecutive scoring level are added until no more than 50 spellers are attained.
Spellers received one point for each of the 12 items correctly identified in the spelling portion of the test, one point for each of the 12 items correctly identified in the initial vocabulary section, three points for a correct answer to the lone item in the second vocabulary section, and three points for a correct answer to the lone item in the third vocabulary section.
The lowest score to advance to the finals was 30.
Aisha was among seven spellers in the national bee making their fourth or fifth appearances. She tied for seventh in last year’s bee, eliminated in the 11th round when she misspelled perduellion, a noun meaning treason, omitting the second L. She tied for 22nd place in the 2016 bee and tied for 35th in the 2017 bee.
This was Aisha’s final bee because it is limited to students in eighth grade or below. Contestants for the 92nd edition of the national bee ranged in age from 7 to 15.
The 13-year-old qualified for the national bee by winning the Riverside County Spelling Bee for a record fourth consecutive time.
Aisha said she thoroughly enjoys “learning of all kinds” and loves performing in the Auburndale Intermediate School jazz band, for which she plays the piano and alto saxophone. She said she has fun with her siblings and friends playing board games and exploring the outdoors.
The original field consisted of spellers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe. Seven foreign nations were also represented — the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
The bee is intended “to inspire children to improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives,” according to Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director and 1981 champion.
Following completion of the 17th round, Jacques Bailly, the bee’s official pronouncer and 1980 champion, announced that the bee would run for three more rounds and all spellers remaining at the conclusion of the 20th round would be declared champions.
All eight remaining spellers correctly spelled each of their final three words.
The E.W. Scripps Co., the bee’s sponsor and owner of 52 television stations, announced each champion would receive the record $50,000 prize.
Each of the final 47 words was spelled correctly.
A speller from Riverside County has never won the bee.
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