NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Twelve-year-old Nicole Frische, of Soddy-Daisy spelled a pair of words that would give an etymologist a headache at the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee on Wednesday but a written portion of the competition will leave her sitting on the sidelines during today's semifinal round.
The sixth-grade student at Loftis Middle School successfully navigated her way around the word flense -- which means to strip the blubber from a seal or whale -- and binturong -- a catlike mammal -- during the public, on-stage portion of the spelling tournament, but came up a few points short overall because of the written test.
Only 42 of this year's 281 participants made it to the semifinal round.
While disappointed, Nicole said she was pleased with her performance.
"I improved over last year so I'm pleased about that,'' she said after the day's events.
This year's competition marked the second time Nicole spelled her way to the national bee, capturing the prize in 2012, as well. If things go as planned, she hopes to make it three in a row next year.
"I wasn't as nervous as I was last year,'' Nicole said. "My mother makes me study all year, although I won't study quite as hard after the bee. But I'll start studying for it again next year and I hope I make it back.''
Since arriving in the nation's capital, Nicole said she has spent most of her time "shopping and studying.'' Her mother, Diane, is an able assistant, quizzing her on the list of words provided by the competition. She also uses her computer as a study aid.
Asked if she was as able a speller as her daughter, Frische laughed and shook her head.
"No way,'' she said.
Nicole loves to travel and takes the opportunity to visit museums and go hiking with her parents, Diane and Kenneth, and her sister, Audrey.
They often visit national parks and other educational sites. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games and spending time with her cats, Coco and Francis, the latter a stray she found last fall.
Nicole was sponsored by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
The 42 youngsters who advanced to today's semifinals had the highest scores after Wednesday's onstage rounds and the computer test that included a vocabulary section for the first time in bee history.
The officials originally announced 41 semifinalists, but added one more after a review of the written test.
The semifinals are this afternoon. The finals are set for tonight, with the winner taking home more than $30,000 in cash and prizes.
Get breaking news from the Times Free Press on Twitter at www.twitter.com/timesfreepress or by visiting us on Facebook or Twitter at the right:
related articles »
Based on the hang time the ice cream clocks while tumbling in the air above Cold Stone Creamery's frost-covered mixing ...
OXON HILL, Md. — Thirteen-year-old Arvind Mahankali of New York has won the Scripps National Spelling bee.
Chattanooga’s envoy to the national bee, Nicole C. Frische, 12, a sixth-grader at Loftis Middle School, was eliminated Wednesday and ...
Of the 85 kids who have won the National Spelling Bee, only one became an instant movie star.