Hed: Lee County speller stays alive in national bee
By Monique Harrison
WASHINGTON - Guntown Middle School eighth-grader Nora Brown isn't sure where she's seen the word "bandicoot" before.
But Wednesday night, that really didn't matter to the 13-year-old Saltillo resident, who is competing in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
"It's a weird word, really," the daughter of Kenneth and Kathy Brown said of the word that describes an Australian rat. "I think I've read it before somewhere - or at least heard it. I sure can't tell you where, but that's OK."
Brown spelled her way into the fourth round of the prestigious competition Wednesday.
Only 103 of the 247 participants were left standing at the end of more than four hours of first-day competition Wednesday.
In addition to "bandicoot," Brown correctly spelled "quelbasa" and "assemblage."
Brown credits her success to the luck of the draw.
"I don't think my words were as hard as some of the others," Brown said. "The overall competition was as hard as I expected. I didn't know a lot of the words that the other students were spelling."
She said waiting for each round to pass was the toughest part of the competition.
"You wait and wait to spell your word because there are so many people," Brown said. "Honestly, it gets a little boring. Most people start spelling along in their heads (with the person who is currently competing), just to pass the time. You get tired waiting."
The pace of today's event is expected to pick up, as the field continues to narrow through a successive series of rounds.
Only one student is expected to be standing at the end of today's competition.
Studying was put on the back burner Wednesday night, as Brown put the dictionary she's been studying aside.
"I'm just trying to relax," she said, as she prepared to accompany her parents and a group of other spelling bee competitors on a trip to Planet Hollywood. "I know I probably need to study, but I'm stressed at this point. I don't really want to study that much."
If Brown makes it to the fifth round of competition, which is expected to begin at around noon, Northeast Mississippi satellite owners can catch her on ESPN2.