After two days of spelling words such as "rhinorrhagia" and "illeism," Scottsdale's spelling champion took a few hours off to visit the nation's capital Wednesday.
Maddy Kloss, 14, is among 46 national spelling finalists competing today in Washington, D.C., for more than $12,000 in prizes.
"I didn't think I would do this well — didn't realize the words would be this manageable," Kloss said Wednesday after touring the capital as a breather in the three-day competition. "Tomorrow, I expect it to get a lot less manageable."
Kloss just finished eighth grade at Ingleside Middle School and will attend Arcadia High School in the fall. She is the three-time Scottsdale Unified School District spelling champion. She won Arizona's spelling bee on March 27.
On Wednesday, despite an illness that left her feverish and with a sore, hoarse voice, Kloss was among only a fifth of the 265 competitors who qualified for today's final competition. She also passed a qualifying written test Tuesday that included such words as "triskaidekaphobia." The word, listed as question No. 13, means a fear of 13.
Kloss' Wednesday performance guaranteed her at least a $400 prize after she successfully spelled her way through the first four rounds, spelling "heresimach," "recondite" and "strepitous."
Today's champion speller wins a $12,000 cash prize and an engraved cup from the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Franklin Electronic Publishers is awarding an additional $5,000 and Merriam-Webster awards a $1,000 savings bond. The winner also will receive a set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, a set of the Great Books of the Western World and the 2004 Britannica CD.
The final round will be shown live 7 to 9 a.m. on ESPN2 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on ESPN.