Local 8th Grader Competes in National Spelling Bee

San Diego's contestant in the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee is out of the running this morning but it's not because she misspelled a word.

Allison Grace Grygar, 13, of Poway, joined 280 spellers as they approached the microphone and tackled words such as "protege," "verboten" and "pneumatic" Wednesday morning in Maryland.

Each speller gets to earn points by spelling two words onstage. Their scores will be combined with a computerized spelling and vocabulary test to determine who will advance to the semifinals Thursday.

Grygar successfully spelled the words melismatic and diphthong in Wednesday’s preliminary rounds

In her post-competition interview, the 8th grader said she was happy with her second round word since it was a familiar one.

“I’ve studied that word but I was so afraid, I kind of forgot it for a minute,” she told NBC 7, “But once I started spelling, I calmed down so it was alright.”

The rules only allow up to 50 finalists to advance, but there were 223 contestants after the preliminary rounds.

The judges narrowed the field to 46 after calculating scores from Tuesday's written exam and Grygar simply didn't have enough points.

Grygar spelled "gurgled" correctly to win the county spelling bee, clinching a spot on the national stage.

Grygar said she loves to read which may be why she's drawn to spelling. Her favorite subject in school would be a tie between Social Studies and English.

In her spare time, she said she likes to knit and crochet and plays the cello, but admits she's just learning so she's not very good.

Her future plans? She’s thought about being a lawyer, maybe.

“I think that would be very neat. Um, but yeah, I’m still deciding,” Grygar said.

In the past ten years, two San Diegans have won the national spelling bee.

In 2012, Snigdha Nandipati correctly spelled "guetapens" to earn the title.  In 2005, Anurag Kashyap landed at the top with the correct spelling of "appoggiatura."

The finals are set for Thursday night. The winner gets more than $33,000 in cash and prizes.

Follow the competition via a live stream available here.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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