WASHINGTON | One made it, one did not.
Jordan Gabriella Hoffman, a 14-year-old from Lee’s Summit making her third and final appearance at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, made it to the championship round tonight.
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But 10-year-old Vanya Shivashankar’s remarkable run ended shortly before 1 p.m. today with the word "pejerrey," a type of fish. It proved too slippery to spell for the Olathe fifth-grader, whose infectious smile and bubbly demeanor had charmed most everyone who came into contact with her at the event just outside the nation’s capital.
Jordan wasted little time with "heiau," her last verbal challenge in the semifinal round. She is one of nine spellers – five girls, four boys - culled from a field of 278 contestants who will vie for the championship. It will be broadcast live at 7 p.m. on ESPN.
Vanya, making her second appearance at the spelling competition, didn't stumble until the third semifinal round, after acing words like "mumpsimus" and "mascalage."
She’s following the path of her older sister, Kavya, who appeared in several bees before winning the national championship in 2009. Vanya still has three more potential bee appearances ahead of her.
The “happy-go-lucky” – her father’s words – speller still displayed the emotional seesaw of the intense competition. Though ebullient as ever even when she missed the word – “Thank you!” she said to the judges, with her broad trademark grin – a few moments later she buried her face her in her father’s shoulder as both he and Kavya consoled her obvious disappointment.