ALEXANDRIA BAY After two years of failing to advance beyond preliminary rounds, Alexandria Central School student Dylan J. OConnor has made it to todays semifinals in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
He is one of 46 competitors who made the cut Wednesday out of 281 who traveled from across the country to Washington, D.C., for the annual competition. The semifinals will be broadcast on ESPN 2 starting at 10 a.m. today. The final round will be shown on ESPN tonight at 8.
Michael J. OConnor, Dylans father, said his son told him that Wednesday was the happiest day of his life. Hes been working for three years to make this cut, he said. Hes pretty psyched.
During the televised competition, Dylan correctly spelled gopak, a Ukrainian folk dance, then ganache, a thick, creamy chocolate mixture used as filling or frosting. Before the televised portion, he worked through a spelling test with words such as metatarsal, tamborito and ritenuto. He also had to give definitions for words including calumny, meaning slander; phlebotomy, or drawing blood from a vein; and sybaritic, meaning opulent luxury.
Mr. OConnor said Dylan performed better this year during the computerized test, which proved to be the difference in advancing to the next round.
Hes been right on the bubble, Mr. OConnor said. Youre never sure.
Dylan, 13, a seventh-grader at Alexandria Central School, gained a spot in the national competition by winning a regional contest in March. He is one of 13 contestants in the national competition for the third time.
Mr. OConnor said Dylan was excited to see friends like Kate Miller, a fellow three-time entrant from Abilene, Texas, and Benjamin Kulas, from Antioch, Tenn., join him in the semifinals.
Dylan is sponsored by the Watertown Daily Times.
Mr. OConnor spoke to the Times as Dylan took part in a computerized spelling round Wednesday evening that will be used as a tie-breaker for the semifinal round. He said the family would have a quiet dinner, then get a good nights sleep before competition starts again.
Other New York students progressing to the semifinal round are Lydia Loverin of Albany, Sriram Hathwar of Corning, Sai Vishudhi Chandrasekhar of New York and Alaina Kenny of Syracuse. New York tied Virginia for second-most semifinalists (five), while Texas led with six.