Local spellers who completed in the opening rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Photo credit: spellingbee.com

The lone San Diego County contestant in the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee misspelled his first word Saturday and was eliminated.

Christian Antonio misspelled diastole, the normal rhythmically occurring relaxation and dilatation of the heart chambers, especially the ventricles, during which they fill with blood, ending it with an I instead of an E.

Christian was among 71 spellers from the initial field of 209 to misspell his or her first-round word.

Christian is a 12-yearold who completed seventh grade at Santa Sophia Academy in Spring Valley this month. Because students in the eighth grade and below are eligible for the national bee he will have the opportunity to compete next year.

Jaedillene Laurino, also 12, of El Centro, correctly spelled her first word, tullibee, a lake fish, but faltered on affixion, the act of attaching, spelling it as “affiction.” She qualified for the bee with the word effervescent, meaning bubbly.

In all, 14 entrants in the national competition hail from California, in the field of 209 from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe.

Representatives from four foreign nations – the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana and Japan, are taking part as well.

Saturday’s preliminaries consisted of three rounds of oral competition, which took 11 1/2 hours to complete.

In the first round, spellers were asked to spell a word. If they spelled it correctly, they moved to the second round, answering a multiple-choice question to define a word. If they answered that correctly, they were asked to spell another word.

The quarterfinals begin Tuesday.

All competition through the semifinals will be held on a virtual basis. Up to 12 finalists will travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Fla. for the finals on July 8.

A San Diegan last won in 2012 – Snigdha Nandipati.

The winner receives $50,000, a commemorative medal and the Scripps Cup, the official championship trophy. Scripps owns television stations, including Channel 10 in San Diego, and cable and broadcast networks.

The winner will also receive $2,500 and a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster, $400 of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica, and a three-year online membership.

Christian qualified for the national bee by winning The San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee which was held March 17 via Zoom. He correctly spelled huipil — a garment worn in Mexico and Central America — to win the 37-speller competition.

The coronavius pandemic prompted organizers to make several changes to the bee from when it was last held in 2019. All competition through the semifinals will be held on a virtual basis.

Saturday’s preliminaries consisted of three rounds of oral competition and took 11 1/2 hours to complete.

In the first round, spellers were asked to spell a word. If they spelled it correctly, they would compete immediately in the second round, answering a multiple-choice word meaning question.

If they answered that correctly, they were asked to spell another word.

All competition through the semifinals will be held on a virtual basis. The top 10-12 finalists will travel to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida for the finals, which will be held July 8.

In 2019 spellers took a multiple-choice test with 12 spelling words and 14 vocabulary questions which was considered the first round.

Spellers correctly spelling their second-round word advanced to the third round. Spellers spelling their third-round words correctly could advance to the finals, which were limited to a maximum of 50 spellers. Spellers’ scores were plotted on a chart beginning at 36. Spellers at each consecutive scoring level were added until no more than 50 spellers have been attained.

The 2020 bee was canceled because of the pandemic.

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