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Published: Thursday, 5/29/2003

Girl already gears up for 2004 bee


WASHINGTON - Thirteen-year-old Bailey Shoemaker Richards of Findlay yesterday lost her bid to become the nation's top speller, joining 166 other spellers who were eliminated in the first day of the National Spelling Bee among 251 who participated.

Bailey was the winner of 2003 Blade Northwest Ohio Championship Spelling Bee.

“I'm going to try,'' said Bailey, who was clearly disappointed but working hard to muster a smile. Her mother, Beth Richards, added: “I couldn't be prouder of her than if she had won the championship.''

In today's final rounds, 84 spellers will vie for the spelling championship. The winner will receive a check for $12,000, a $1,000 U.S. savings bond, an engraved loving cup, and an Encyclopaedia Britannica set.

But Bailey was eliminated from the bee in the second round, which consisted of a written test of 25 spelling words. Bailey said she misspelled 12 of the words, which included such words as “pervicacious” and “mycetismus.” Only those who spelled 15 or more words correctly advanced to today's final rounds.

“The duffel bag is so heavy I can't lift it,'' she said, adding that studying spelling words “is something I really enjoy.”

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