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Alexandria Central School student makes national spelling bee semifinals


ALEXANDRIA BAY — After two years of failing to advance beyond preliminary rounds, Alexandria Central School student Dylan J. O’Connor has made it to today’s 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. O’Connor, Dylan’s father, said his son told him that Wednesday was the happiest day of his life. “He’s been working for three years to make this cut,” he said. “He’s 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. O’Connor said Dylan performed better this year during the computerized test, which proved to be the difference in advancing to the next round.

“He’s been right on the bubble,” Mr. O’Connor said. “You’re 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. O’Connor 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. O’Connor 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 night’s 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.

2014 Scripps National Spelling BeePreliminaries Test for Dylan O’Connor
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