Indiana boy wins National Spelling Bee
Fri Jun 4, 6:11 AM ET Add Top Stories - USATODAY.com to My Yahoo!
By Rebecca F. Johnson, USA TODAY
With an audible breath after every letter and tears welling up in his eyes, David Scott Tidmarsh spelled "autochthonous" Thursday to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Tidmarsh, 14, of South Bend, Ind., tied for 16th in the 2003 competition. This year, he beat out 264 other spellers - including one who fainted - to clinch the title in the 15th round. He said he felt relieved but a little sad. "I won't be able to be in any more spelling bees," said Tidmarsh, who as an eighth-grader is not eligible for next year's competition. "But it's great I ended this on a high note."
Tidmarsh started competing in bees in the third grade. He will receive $17,000 and other prizes as the winner of the 77th annual event.
Children ages 9-15 advanced from regional bees to the national competition. There, they showcased the months they spent scouring study guides and dictionaries to memorize words such as "scaphocephaly" (a condition in which the head is disproportionately long and narrow) and "pilosebaceous" (relating to a hair follicle and its sebaceous gland).
For the first time, the bee had a time limit on each word. Spellers received a warning at two minutes notifying them that they had 30 seconds to finish. Also for the first time, a 25-word written test was given in the first round. Previously, the first round was oral competition, and the written test came in round two.
Throughout the competition, the spellers sat on stage in matching shirts, deep in concentration. But their jitters were apparent.
Second-place speller Akshay Buddiga, 13, of Colorado Springs passed out in the sixth round, only to stand and successfully spell "alopecoid," meaning foxlike. The eighth-grader received a standing ovation - and a medical checkup - and sat in a chair for the remainder of the competition.
"I've been coming to this competition since 1980, and I've never seen anything like it," said Paige Kimble, bee director and the 1981 champion.
Akshay, whose brother Pratyush won the 2002 competition, missed on "schwarmerei," meaning excessive, unbridled enthusiasm.
For some, such as eighth-grader Holly Duitsman, 13, of Barstow, Calif., the bell that announced that they had misspelled a word also signaled the end of their bee careers.
For others, such as Claire Nieman, 12, a home-schooled sixth-grader from Seattle, it was a sign to study up for next year.
"We'll be sitting here next year," joked Bill Nieman, her father. Claire missed "filiopietistic" (having great reverence for ancestors) in the fifth round.