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Top Spellers Compete on Final Day

May 30, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ The devil really was in the details for Alyssa Coltrain.

Satan ousted the 13-year-old from the finals of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee early Thursday _ she reversed two letters in ``Beelzebub,″ a Hebrew word for the devil that literally means ``lord of the flies.″

Coltrain, of Glenmoore, Pa., spelled it ``beezlebub.″

Of 250 contestants who began the competition Wednesday, only 58 remained at the end of Round 3. The winner was expected to be crowned in late afternoon, taking home an engraved trophy and $12,000.

Ninety spellers survived a 25-word written test Wednesday, with words that ran the gamut from elementary (``allot,″ ``solvency″) to advanced (``decoupage″) to nearly impossible (``geusioleptic,″ ``boswellize,″ ``scagliola″).

Thursday’s finals were broadcast live on ESPN, the cable sports network.

First lady Laura Bush opened the broadcast with taped comments, telling the contestants, ``I am very proud of you. I hope you’ll always work hard at spelling and at reading. The more you read, the better your spelling will become and the more your vocabulary will grow.″

In early competition Thursday, contestants successfully worked their way through ``gamopetalous,″ ``perestroika,″ ``stultiloquence,″ ``remunerative″ and ``opusculum,″ among others.

Pratyush Buddiga, 13, of Colorado Springs, Colo., repeated his word, ``deuterogamy,″ a second marriage, a half dozen times before slowly ticking off each of the letters.

Nathan Hammes, 13, of Sheridan, Ind., took only a second to correctly spell ``bacciferous,″ bearing berries.

But several minutes of deep thought couldn’t get the job done for Bria Wash of Anderson, Ind. She barely missed ``antinomy.″ She substituted an ``a″ for the ``o.″

Others stumbled on these tough nuts: ``gnotobiotic,″ ``etymon,″ ``basmati,″ ``schloss,″ ``syntrophism″ and ``wasteweir.″

Sarah Troutman, 14, of Chana, Ill., missed that last one, after hearing the word had a French derivation.

‘``Weir’ sounds German to me, rather than French,″ she said, watching the competition after being eliminated.

Sarah, who was also eliminated in Round 3 last year, said she was disappointed, especially since she’s an eighth-grader and ineligible to compete next year.

``It’s not the greatest feeling right now. I did the best I could, though. That’s the best anybody could really ask for.″


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