Two central San Joaquin Valley girls found their spelling journeys halted Wednesday, each by a single-letter error and the sound of a disqualification bell at the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
‘Multivalent’ trips up Ananya
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Young but brilliant, shy but determined, 11-year-old Ananya said she was happy to have reached the national competition while still in fifth grade at Fugman Elementary School in Clovis Unified.
“Always thought I’d make it one day,” Ananya said. “I expected it to be later.”
But the spelling bug bit her even younger. “My first spelling bee was in first grade,” she said. “They said I was pretty good at it, and I liked it, so I just kept on doing it.”
Though clearly disappointed after elimination, she was already planning to go farther next year. She has three more years of eligibility and is already a two-time California State Elementary Spelling Bee champion.
“I’m sad I didn’t get the word right,” Ananya said of missing “multivalent,” which she said she confused with a chemistry term. (She spelled it “multivalant.”) “The meaning wasn’t clear, and I sort of overthought it.” Webster’s defines “multivalent” as having many values or meanings.
Thinking of a science term wasn’t entirely unexpected for Ananya, who said she wants to be a doctor or a lawyer when she grows up. Whichever, she also wants to write.
In the second round Wednesday morning, she correctly spelled “arenaceous” (consisting of sand or sandlike particles).
Sameera misses ‘probative’
Confident and outgoing, 12-year-old Sameera – who also competed here last year – seemed ready for anything Wednesday. But things just didn’t work out.
“This is the first time I’ve messed up onstage,” she said.
Last year, the Sequoia Middle School seventh-grader spelled all her words correctly on stage but was eliminated based on her first-round score from the written, multiple-choice test.
This year, she missed “probative,” spelling it “probitive.”
Yet she said she knew many other contestants’ words, so she’s sure she can succeed next year. “I’m confident in making it to the finals.”
In the second round, she correctly spelled “Conestoga” (a type of wagon). She said she won’t let one missed word drag down her Gryffindor-like confidence (she’s a big “Harry Potter” fan) – or her fun.
“I made a mistake,” the seventh-grader said. “I’m not going to let that ruin the rest of my week here.”
All 285 contestants stay the week. The top 50 advanced to Thursday’s final rounds, with early competition starting at 7 a.m. on ESPN2 and later rounds beginning at 5 p.m. on ESPN. Paul Loeffler, the voice of Fresno State athletics, will commentate on the broadcast for the 11th straight year. (His sister, Corrie Loeffler, is on the spelling bee staff. Both Loefflers participated in the bee as youngsters growing up in Los Banos.)
Ananya was sponsored by The Fresno Bee. Sameera was backed by the Visalia Times-Delta/Tulare Advance-Register.