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Area speller eliminated from national contest

May 30, 2013
By MARK J. MILLER - Staff writer ( , The Herald-Star

WASHINGTON, D.C. - It wasn't to be for Nathan Keenan during the 2013 Scripps National Bee being held just outside the nation's capital, as Keenan didn't score high enough in preliminary rounds Tuesday and Wednesday to advance to the semifinals.

Keenan, a seventh-grader at Toronto High School and the son of Jeanine and Jim Keenan, didn't have a combined score high enough after taking a computer and written tests that combined spelling and definitions. Keenan did spell two words correctly on stage as part of the preliminary competition, but it wasn't enough, according to his mother.

"He's out," she said. "He got both his (on stage) words right, but he didn't do so very well on the vocabulary section."

Article Photos

AWAITS WINNER — The Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy sits in wait for a winner at the start of the second round of competition in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday. - Associated Press

Nathan said he didn't do as well as he hoped to during the written portion.

"I didn't do so well on the written test," he said. "It's sad, but I'm glad for the experience and getting back to my 'normal' life'. I either wanted to go all the way or or be done with it sooner."

Keenan won the right to advance to the finals and represent the area by correctly spelling the word "segue," which is defined as moving smoothly and unhesitatingly from one state, condition, situation or element to another, to win the 29th-annual Herald-Star Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee March 2 at Buckeye North Elementary School.

In addition to a trophy, Keenan received a Webster's Third New International Dictionary, courtesy of Merriam-Webster; a $50 certificate and mint proof coin set in memory of Samuel Louis Sugarman, a supporter of the bee; a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica; a $20 gift certificate; a $250 gift certificate from Huntington Bank and transportation to the national bee courtesy on Amtrak through the participation of Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel of Wheeling.

According to Scripps, Keenan was one of 97 spellers who made their first trip to Washington.

The onstage competition will be held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., today and will be the highlight of Bee Week, which included a Memorial Day picnic.

Today the semifinalists compete live on stage from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the cable network ESPN2, with the on-stage championship finals scheduled to be broadcast from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. on ESPN.

Out of the original 281 spellers, only 41 made the cut to the semifinals. Jeanine Keenan said that stark statistic left Nathan feeling a little better about his performance.

In the meantime, the Keenan family has been able to meet some other spellers and planned to take a private tour of Washington today. They plan on watching the onstage finals in person later this evening. On Friday, they plan to attend the awards banquet and join in the farewell party before heading back home Saturday.

"It's a little sad," said Jeanine, adding it still was the experience of a lifetime for her son and the family. "He was disappointed."

Helping the Herald-Star present the regional bee was the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. Sponsors included Eastern Gateway Community College, the Steubenville Rotary Club, Huntington Bank, the Ohio Lottery Commission, Amtrak and Uniglobe Ohio Valley Travel of Wheeling.

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