1:32: The last speller of the afternoon is
Reston's Centerville's Tim Ruiter. The word is "alastor," meaning "avenging deities and spirits." If he gets it, the Finals will have 11 entrants. If he misses, there will be 10.
He cruises, with hardly a hesitation, giving us 11 spellers for the Finals, with some DMV representin'. There are seven girls and four boys; the boys have dominated this event in recent years. There are three mega-favorites (Kyle Mou, Kavya Shivashankar and Sid Chand). There are made-for-TV stars, in the mugging wise-cracking Kennyi Kwaku Aouad and the braces-wearing, excitable Neetu Chandak. There is the punk rocker from West Palm Beach, Serena Skye Laine-Lobsinger. Should be quite a night.
1:30: Whole Foods could kill it if this were the finals. The second-to-last word of the afternoon is "Grenache." Possibly just the third word of the day I would have handled successfully. Aditya Chemudupaty, who is nine years short of legal drinking age, goes with "Granache," and is dinged.
1:26: And another pasta word, our second of the day. Fedelini, defined as "Pasta smaller than vermicelli!" Who knew pasta came in shapes smaller than vermicelli? Can Whole Foods leverage this somehow? "David didn't expect much in relationships, only that fedelini be spooned into his mouth and he be fanned with a palm frond," was the official sentence. It was spelled correctly; and with three spellers to go, the ranks have been trimmed by three.
Reston's Centreville's Tim Ruiter is on double-deck.
1:24: Another sports word! It's clotrimazole, an anti-fungal agent used to treat jock itch, although the official definition involves a phrase besides "jock itch," for some reason. Tino Delamerced, an accomplished clarinet and piano player, gets dinged on it. More sweaty locker rooms and fewer orchestra chambers for you, young man.
1:18: The three big names are all through: three-time Nationalist Kyle Mou (who tied for eighth a year ago), four-timer Kavya Shivashankar, and defending runner-up Sid Chand. Kennyi is a three-time Nationalist, as is Avvinash Radakrishnan, who just got dinged. Eight spellers have punched their tickets, and six remain.
(Avvinash's father, incidentally, was wearing a nearly identical striped polo, with a slightly different shade of blue.)
1:17: They're really moving things along now. And yet they're not making much progress, with five of the first six moving through. Kennyi cements his status as easiest to root for, pulling out his glasses before he digs into "austausch," and then pointing at the camera and mugging his face off as the cameraman gave him the thumbs-up. He will be a (three-day) sensation if he wins this thing tonight.
1:13: The first two contestants are through, including punk rocker Serena Skye Laine-Lobsinger. "I-m-p-r-i-m-i-s, is that it?" she asks. It is. "Yesssssss," she says, as she skips back to her seat.
1:08: The ESPN broadcast was scheduled to end at 1, and Chris McKendry tells viewers that we're on to overtime. Three of the heavyweights--Kyle Mou, Sid Chand and Kavya Shivashankar--are still hanging around, as is
Reston's Centreville's Tim Ruiter. This will almost certainly be the final round before tonight's Finals.