Virginia's human dictionaries take on the nation

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NATIONAL HARBOR, MD (Gray DC) -- The country’s buzzing as we draw closer to the conclusion of a grueling season of competition. No, not the NBA Finals, or Stanley Cup, but this year’s National Spelling Bee.

With pride and a college scholarship on the line – America’s best and brightest flexed their brainpower Tuesday.
Jenna Ng’s so impressed with the competition she’s not sure she has a chance. The Lynchburg Virginia 5th grader offered an explanation, "I’ve seen some videos of it, the words the spell are really crazy how they even know it."

This is year two at the Scripps National Spelling Bee for Ryan Crawford.
The South Boston, VA 7th grader said experience and study helps but is no guarantee. “It’s really just trying to have fun and also try to do as best as you can, that’s really all you can do," he said.

Those who spell their word correctly on-stage move on to Day 2. Ahead of the big moment Nikitha Prabhu, said she hoped for the Spelling Bee equivalent of a routine ground ball. "Something easy, something that I know," said the Lynchburg 7th grader.

But to make the finals, spellers needed to nail Tuesday morning’s written test as well. Roanoke 7th grader Elizabeth Safford felt good about her exam. Asked if that means she felt confident she could win the whole competion, she paused for several seconds before saying, "not really, no."

Most of Virginia spelling bee entrants are humble. Many won't even claim to be the spelling champions of their own family; others said their families wouldn't bestow that ttile on them.

Roanoke 7th grader Isabelle Aujila said her family doesn't seek spelling help. Asked it that's because they would rather get it wrong than concede they could use her help, Aujila responded with a laugh, and simply, "yes, definitely."

After the first day, Tuesday, all of these students are moving on to the next round.

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