BRANDON — Alina Meador, 14, shook as she sat on stage at last week's Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
But despite her jitters, she nailed "resistance" and "zymurgy." Zymurgy, the study of fermentation, was the last word in one of her study books, and she knew it well.
But when those points were added to her score on a computer spelling test, it wasn't enough to move on to the semifinals. Only 41 of the 293 spellers did.
One of the tougher words on the computer test: Onychorrhexis, a brittleness of the nails.
"I was actually happy that I didn't have to spell anymore," Alina said earlier this week. She had been practicing several hours a day for three months.
Alina, a rising ninth-grader who plans to attend Academy of the Holy Names, and her mom, Linda Meador, watched the remainder of the competition from the audience. Alina spelled the words to herself as the number of competitors was whittled down.
She also attended the social events planned for spelling bee participants. Alina met a boy from New Zealand at a barbecue, and she danced with a girl from Florida at a banquet. She plans to keep in touch with them.
"I had a lot of fun," she said. "I learned how to spell some words, but I also met a lot of good friends."
Reach Jessica Vander Velde at jvander firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 661-2443.