Richmond, Va., Teen Wins National Spelling Bee
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Amanda Goad, a 13-year-old from Richmond, Va., defeated last year’s third- place finisher to win the 65th National Spelling Bee on Thursday, correctly spelling ″lyceum.″
The runner-up was 14-year-old Todd Erik Wallace of Blackfoot, Idaho, who was competing in his fourth straight contest. It was Amanda’s second year in the competition; she tied for fourth last year.
In the 15th round, she had an easy time of ″peregrinate,″ which means having the air of one who has traveled or lived abroad, while Todd asked for clues - language origin, alternate pronunciations - before falling on ″pellagra,″ meaning a disease associated with diets deficient in niacin and protein.
Amanda strode confidently to the microphone, smiling broadly.
Asked to spell ″lyceum,″ she said aloud as if reciting the definition from memory, ″It has something to do with schools or gardens ... lyceum.″
″L-y-c-e-u-m,″ she said, then broke into an even wider grin.
″Lyceum″ refers to the gymnasium near Athens where Aristotle taught or to a place for holding lectures.
With the win, Amanda takes home $5,000 in first-place prize money. Todd gets $4,000 for finishing second.
″I’ll probably save it for college,″ Amanda said, noticeably relieved, at a news conference minutes later. ″I’m just glad it’s over. I figured I’d die by this point, but I’m not dead yet.″
Todd moved up a place from last year, but still fell short of his goal: winning the tournament.
″I can’t come back next year, but this is OK,″ Todd said. Asked what his toughest word was, Todd broke into a rueful smile and said, ″Pellagra.″
To win the single-elimination tournament, Amanda correctly spelled ″referential,″ ″proaulion,″ ″bailiff,″ ″arsenal,″ ″vicissitude,″ ″ptarmigan,″ ″exigency,″ ″elision,″ ″occlusal,″ ″veridical,″ ″amaryllis,″ ″bifid,″ ″lyophilizer,″ ″cudgel,″ ″peregrinate″ and ″lyceum.″
Amanda, an eighth grader at Byrd Middle School in Richmond, is the only child of J. Melvin and Patsy P. Goad. Amanda is an honor roll student whose favorite subjects include math and Latin. She was sponsored by the Richmond News Leader.
The battle between Amanda and Todd was the high-point of a five-day festival, sponsored by Scripps Howard Newspapers in 13 cities and 208 other daily, weekly and Sunday newspapers. There were 227 original entrants.
Thursday’s first two rounds saw 74 youngsters eliminated, including 13- year-old Andy Lagatta of Clintonville, Wis., the brother of last year’s winner. Lagatta went down in the fifth round when he misspelled ″beleaguer.″ He asked the judges several times to pronounce the word, and said afterward that he simply misheard them.
″I thought it was a different word,″ Andy said.
By the 12th round, just three competitors were left - Amanda, Todd and 11- year-old Srinivas Ayyagari of Memphis, Tenn.
Srinivas went no further, bowing out on ″rescissory,″ meaning to have the effect of a rescission, or a cutting off.
In the 14th, Todd agonized before correctly spelling ″hartebeest,″ which refers to a large, nearly exterminated African antelope. Amanda then correctly spelled ″cudgel,″ setting up the 15th-round showdown, in which Todd stumbled.
A surprise was 10-year-old Evan Lucas Hulka, of Hillsborough, Calif., one of just three fourth-graders to begin the competition. He lasted until the ninth round, when he erred on ″loupe,″ a jeweler’s eyepiece.
The $9,000 split between Amanda and Todd was part of a purse totaling $26,550. The original field included 117 girls and 110 boys, each of whom had won a local spelling contest to advance to the championship.