A Durham student will get a third shot at winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee Thursday and is the only Triangle speller to advance to the finals.
Bettie Lehem Closs, a seventh-grader at Lucas Middle School in Durham, is one of 45 spellers to move on to the finals of the national competition, according to a list released Wednesday evening. This is the third consecutive year she has qualified for the national bee.
She advanced after correctly spelling words in two preliminary on-stage rounds Wednesday and one written multiple-choice test. On stage, she correctly spelled “escarole” and “emancipatory” to advance.
Three other Triangle students were eliminated from competition, which started with 285 spellers:
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▪ Rahul Sachdev, a fifth-grade home-schooler from Cary;
▪ Abigail Pittman, an eighth-grader at Southside Christian School in Clayton;
▪ Kellan Rhys All, a seventh-grader at Harnett Central Middle School in Angier.
Eva Alessandra Vega of Charlotte is the only other North Carolina speller to advance to Thursday’s finals. She is a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Carmel Christian School.
Sachdev represented Wake County and qualified after topping his brother at the Wake County Spelling Bee in March.
Of the original group, 171 spellers made it through Wednesday’s on-stage rounds. The list was narrowed down after combining on-stage scores with the written test results.
Sachdev and Pittman incorrectly spelled words during the final two preliminary rounds. While All spelled his correctly, he did not earn a high enough score on the written test to advance.
Closs will take the stage Thursday, May 26, and the competition will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 10 a.m., and continue on ESPN at 8 p.m.