Shelby County speller makes semifinals in national bee

Fourteen-year-old Grace Pyo of Shelby County was eliminated last week in the first round of semi-finals at the 80th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

After asking the judges to use the word in a sentence and for the definition, Pyo was eliminated on the word &8220;difficile.&8221; She mistakenly spelled it &8220;d-i-f-e-c-i-l-e.&8221;

&8220;The double &8216;f&8217; was a little difficult,&8221; Pyo said. &8220;Double letters are often what trick spellers because you can&8217;t detect them in pronunciation.&8221;

Pyo said she had actually practiced the word at one point but did not have time to study it again before the competition.

&8220;Of the nearly 474,000 words, it&8217;s hard to know them all,&8221; she said. &8220;And all it takes is one word you don&8217;t remember.&8221;

Pyo, who used notecards and iPod recordings to study for the competition, spelled three words correctly before being eliminated in the fifth round.

Though she said it would have been nice to make it to the championship finals, she has no regrets and is not beating herself up about getting eliminated.

Pyo accomplished her goal of making it to the ESPN rounds and was okay with anything that happened from then on, she said.

Although the upcoming high school freshman is no longer eligible to compete in further spelling bees (eligibility ends after completion of the eighth grade), Pyo said she will continue to study and learn words because of her affection for language.

As for now, though, she sees no more three-to-four-hour study sessions of nearly 18,000 words in her future. Pyo&8217;s focus is on enjoying the summer like any other teenager.

&8220;I&8217;m just getting ready for high school and catching up on friendships,&8221; she said