Each of the three spellers from Los Angeles and Orange counties in the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee correctly spelled both words and chose the proper definition for the third word they were given as the competition began Saturday on a virtual basis.
Irene Thomas correctly spelled diapason, a noun meaning a full, rich outpouring of harmonious sound. She then correctly answered the question, “Something metatarsal is?” choosing “relating to the part of the foot that forms the instep.”
In the third round, she correctly spelled torero, a noun meaning a matador or one of the supporting team.
Baominh Le’s first word was meiosis, the process of cell division in sexually reproducing organisms that reduces the number of chromosomes from diploid to haploid. He then chose the correction definition for stamina, staying power.
Baominh’s final word of the day was gallowglass, the mercenary warrior elite among Gaelic-Norse clans residing in the Western Isles of Scotland and Scottish Highlands from the mid-13th century to the end of the 16th century.
Sophia Lin first correctly spelled scintillation, a flash of light produced in a phosphor by absorption of an ionizing particle or photon. She correctly defined oblique as slanting in direction or position.
Sophia’s final word to spell Saturday was copestone, the highest point, as of achievement.
The trio will next be among the competitors in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, which will be completed one round at a time.
Saturday’s preliminaries consisted of three rounds of oral competition, which took 11 1/2 hours to complete and began with a field of 209 from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe and four foreign nations — the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana and Japan.
In the first round, spellers were asked to spell a word. If they spelled it correctly, they would compete immediately in the second round, answering a multiple-choice word meaning question.
If they answered that correctly, they were asked to spell another word.
All competition through the semifinals will be held on a virtual basis. The top 10-12 finalists will travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida for the finals, which will be held July 8.
Irene is a 13-year-old from Tarzana who graduated Friday from eighth grade at the Sherman Oaks Center for Enriched Studies, a fourth through 12th grade magnet school in Tarzana. It kept its original name after moving to the site of the former Sequoia Junior High School in 1980.
She enjoys reading books (dystopian novels in particular) and playing chess, the video game Minecraft and the multiplayer online game Roblox. She also likes making origami (mostly animals), building with Lego, eating chocolate and deciphering riddles and jokes.
Her favorite book is the young adult high fantasy novel “Eragon,” favorite author is J.R.R. Tolkien and favorite actress is Emma Watson.
Baominh and Sophia both graduated Thursday from The Pegasus School, a private, pre-kindergarten through eighth grade school in Huntington Beach. They are also 13.
They qualified for the national bee by tying for the championship in the Orange County Spelling Bee, which was conducted March 6 with a 50-question online test.
Plans for a tie-breaking round were dropped when they were notified by The Orange County Register and Orange County Department of Education that both would advance to the national bee.
Baominh is a pianist, enjoys running in 5K races and started the Lexington Chapter of the Little Free Library, putting a book-sharing box in the neighborhood near his school.
Baominh is highly interested in technology, would love to tour the Apple headquarters in Cupertino and hopes to obtain a pilot’s license.
Sophia has been an avid reader since a young age, quickly befriending the school librarians to get more and more book recommendations. She also enjoys mathematics and coding and wants to pursue a career in medicine or science.
Sophia is a flutist with the Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association Honor Band. She finished second at an international music competition playing the piano and competes in dance competitions.
No speller from Los Angeles or Orange counties has won the bee.
The winner will receive $50,000, a commemorative medal and the Scripps Cup, the official championship trophy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, from Scripps, which owns television stations and cable and broadcast networks.
The winner will also receive $2,500 and a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; $400 of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica, including a replica set of the 1768 encyclopedia, and a three-year online membership.