Clovis spelling champ fails to advance to semifinals

Clovis' Ariel Kokoricha performed perfectly onstage in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

However, the Clovis Christian School sixth-grader to be will not be advancing to today's semifinals because she did not earn enough points in a formula that combined Wednesday's onstage rounds with a computer test that included a section on vocabulary for the first time.

Forty-two competitors will go on to participate in the semifinals, and those who are successful will go on to the finals.

"She did great," said her mother Oyin. "I saw the results and as far as I'm concerned, she did wonderful."

Kokoricha said her daughter handled the elimination well, and plans to enjoy the rest of her trip to Washington, D.C.

"We are proud of her," her mother said. "I'm really pleased."

The 153rd speller to go before Bee officials Wednesday, New Mexico's speeling champ's first word, in the morning round, was "banzai," which Webster's dictionary defines as "a Japanese greeting, battle cry, and cheer, meaning, 'May you live ten thousand years!'"

Her spelling it properly meant that she went on to another round, when she was asked to spell "boulevardier," which Webster's defines as a French noun meaning "a man who frequents the cafe on the boulevards of Paris; hence, any man about town."

Kokoricha was among the younger competitors, being one of eight rivals out of the original 281 who are 10 years old. The youngest is 8-year-old Tara Singh from Louisville, Ky.,

She was up against 134 boys and 147 girls at the start of the competition.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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