NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — North Dakota eighth-graders Annaliese Rauschenberger and Chris Fleig made it through the third round of spelling in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington on Wednesday, but did not advance to the final round.
Despite spelling both their words correctly, the two 14-year-olds did not land a spot in the final round. Bee officials said they selected 50 finalists based on spellers’ performance in the two rounds of onstage oral spelling and a preliminary written test taken earlier in the week.
“I’m definitely nervous because if you misspell here, you’re out,” Rauschenberger, 14, said before competing. But the first-time national spelling bee participant has come prepared.
“I’ve kind of always been a speller, I read every spare minute of my day,” she said. When Rauschenberger’s not spelling, she enjoys fishing, playing volleyball and serving on South Prairie School’s student council.
“She’s worked really hard to get here,” said her father, Gabe Rauschenberger. “We’re proud of her.”
Rauschenberger took center stage and was asked to spell the word, “lugubrious,” meaning an expression of grief or sorrow. She spelled the word correctly.
Fleig, 14, who attends Dickinson Middle School, said he received a list of hundreds of words when he arrived in Washington. He studied them closely with his mother this week.
“If I spell this word right, I may end up going to the finals, which is really big,” he said before going on stage.
His mother, Ratna Fleig, said she tried to keep a normal and calm routine during the competition.
“He did study this morning and I think we are ready,” she said with a smile. “I have faith in him.”
Fleig spelled the word “dissuade” correctly during the third round.
This year, 562 participants competed in the 92nd National Spelling Bee, the largest group in the competition’s history, said Paige Kimble, the spelling bee director.
“We say at the beginning that they are all champions,” Jacques Bailly, the official pronouncer of the spelling bee, said. “They know so much.”
The final round will begin Thursday at 10 a.m., until there are about a dozen spellers left. They will compete for the championship Thursday night during a live ESPN broadcast.
The winner will receive $50,000, a reference library from Merriam-Webster, a trophy and additional prizes.