'I'm here, aren't I?'

"Hi, Dr. Bailly," greeted Victoria Allen (Speller 277).

"Howdy. How are you?" Dr. Bailly replied.

"Excellent. I'm here, aren't I?" the Green River, Wyoming eighth grader answered.

Upon hearing her word -- "salaam" -- Victoria said she only wanted a sentence if it was funny.

"Well... don't think I have one," Dr. Bailly said.

"Shame," Victoria said. She went on to spell the word correctly.


He's back

"Hi, Jae," Dr. Bailly said to three-time Bee competitor Jae Canetti (Speller 262) when he took the stage.

"Hello. I'm back," the Reston, Virginia sixth grader said.

"Good for you," Dr. Bailly responded. "Hope to see you a lot."

Jae correctly spelled "Holi" to stay in the competition. Dr. Bailly will see him again in Round Three.



Hold on to that trophy

Watch out for that trophy. Kasey Torres (Speller 245) has his eye on it.

After correctly spelling "Meiji" to stay in the Bee, Kasey walked past the trophy (instead of through the middle aisle) to get back to his seat. He reached out as if to grab it off the pedastal.

The San Angelo, Texas third grader high fived his fellow spellers on the way back to his chair.


They want to laugh

The spellers really want to laugh this morning.

"Is the sentence funny?" asked Lokesh Nagineni (Speller 235) upon hearing the word "voortrekker."

"No, it's 'Andries Pretorius was a voortrekker for whom one of the three capital cities of South Africa is named,'" Dr. Bailly replied.

"At least it's interesting," Lokesh said.

Shobha Dasari (Speller 238) wanted humor as well.

"Since it's part of your contract, can you use the word in a sentence?" she asked.

'We meet again'

"We meet again," Benjamin Kulas (Speller 226) told Dr. Bailly, as he approached the microphone.

"Hopefully many times," Dr. Bailly responded.

Benjamin last competed in 2011, when he tied for 42nd place. The Nashville eighth grader correctly spelled "conquistador" to stay in the Bee.

Taking a moment

It's difficult to be on stage with all the lights.

Seongjun Lee (Speller 225), an eighth grader representing South Korea, needed a moment as he spelled his word.

"Let me get my mind straight," he said.

Seongjun misspelled "apparatchik" and was eliminated in the round.

Meeting the laugh quota

Shreyas Parab (Speller 204) helped the spellers at the assembly last night by reminding them to take deep breaths, ask questions and not give up.

But in his demonstration, he decided it was too soon for him to be at the spelling mic.

He stepped up to it Wednesday to correctly spell "mahout," a word that means a keeper and driver of an elephant.

Earlier, Dr. Bailly told the spellers that he needed them to laugh to make sure he could come back in future years. Shreyas assured him that he was doing what he needed to.

At the last minute

Joseph Cusi Delamerced (Speller 187) stopped the hearts of many in the ballroom as he spelled "witloof."

He spelled W-I-T-L-O then paused and started over.

On the second attempt, he stopped in the same place. As the time ran out, Joseph added a questioning O-F to finish the word.

He got it right.

It is Joseph's third time at the Bee; he tied for 12th last year.


A sigh of relief

Mary Polking (Speller 168) breathed a deep sigh of relief when she returned to her seat, having spelled "homburg" correctly.

She'd started the word, then paused, unsure where to go after the "B."

But the Charlotte, North Carolina eighth grader started over at the beginning and got the word right.

Minutes later, she's still smiling in her seat.

Hello friends

The only speller here for the fifth time -- Sriram Hathwar (Speller 154) -- feels like he knows us all.

"Hello Dr. Bailly. And friends," he said. The audience chuckled.

Sriram -- who placed third last year -- correctly spelled "Backstein," a German cheese, to continue to Round Three.