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Alexandria’s O’Connor misses out on spelling bee finals

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ALEXANDRIA BAY — After a thrilling two days of onstage quizzing in the national spotlight, Alexandria Central School student Dylan J. O’Connor ended his run Thursday in the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

This year’s contest was the third in which Dylan has competed, and the first time he achieved his goal of reaching the semifinals.

He failed to become one of the 12 finalists but expressed satisfaction with the outcome.

“I said if I make it to the National Spelling Bee, I want to make it to the semifinals,” Dylan said. “I reached my goal, so I’m happy.”

The contest ended late Thursday in a tie, with two students exhausting the final word list to become co-champions: Sriram Hathwar, of Corning, and Ansun Sujoe, of Fort Worth, Texas. The last time the competition named co-champions was 1962.

As one of 46 competitors in the televised semifinal round Thursday morning, Dylan correctly spelled “supernaculum,” meaning to the last drop, and “diaphoresis,” meaning perspiration.

Despite two days of perfect spelling on stage, his performance in the computerized spelling and vocabulary tests left him just short of advancing. “I didn’t have a high enough score,” he said.

Dylan, who was sponsored by the Watertown Daily Times, was one of 281 contestants from across the country who took part in the national competition, which began Wednesday. He will remain in Washington, D.C., where he will tour the Capital and attend a banquet and dance.

Alexandria Central School Superintendent Kyle Faulkner said faculty and staff members were logged in watching the live streaming broadcast. “The place (was) certainly buzzing,” Mr. Faulkner said. In the school library, a television carried the National Spelling Bee on ESPN2.

Dylan, a seventh-grader, gained a spot in the national competition by winning a regional contest in March. At 13, he has one more year of eligibility for the competition, and he aspires to return next year.

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