"Aw, dang it," Alex Iyer, speller 259, said after he misspelled savate, a form of boxing in which blows are delivered with either the feet or the hands.
The Texas eighth grader tied for 22nd place last year.
Alex said he was “relieved, nervous and excited” to be in the Finals of the Bee.
“Everything seems surreal,” he said. “It shows your hard work will pay off.”
He said he was thrilled to have bested himself from last year. But it was bittersweet to see other spellers he respected get out, he said, and as an eighth grader, it’s his last Bee. He’s sad about that.
Getting to the Finals, though, is a great way to end his spelling bee career. Before he made it to the Finals, Alex said, he kept getting words he didn’t know.
Alex said he doesn’t do anything specific for luck, but he asked his mom to wear a floral shirt for him. What she wears is lucky for him, he said.
Alex started spelling in third grade, and got out when he misspelled midday, he said.
“I cried after that,” he said. “It’s a good reminder you can work hard and achieve your goals.”