By Malia Rulon Herman, Gannett Washington Bureau
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - Missouri sent eight students to the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year, but none of them advanced to Thursday evening's final round.
Gokul Venkatachalam of Chesterfield made it the furthest. He was one of just 42 spellers out of 281 to make it into Thursday afternoon's semifinal rounds. Only 11 spellers advanced to Thursday night's final round.
Gokul, 12, correctly spelled his first word, "smellfungus," which means one given to fault finding. But he missed his second word, which was "epichoric," which means particular to an area or local.
On Wednesday, he correctly spelled "accommodate," which means to provide lodging or sufficient space for, and "sylph," which is a mythological creature.
"I was excited to move on again," he said Thursday.
It was Gokul's second bee and he said the large stage in the cavernous ballroom of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center felt familiar. The sixth grader from Parkway West Middle School tied for 10th place last year and said he plans to return in 2014.
"Hopefully," he said, noting that he has two more years of eligibility. Spellers cannot compete beyond the eighth grade.
Meanwhile, Ethan Talbot, 13, of Lebanon, Mo., did not advance to Thursday's semifinal round in the bee despite correctly spelling both of his words in Wednesday's rounds. The words he spelled were "durwan," which is an Indian word for a live-in doorkeeper, and "debenture," which is a document acknowledging a debt.
Spellers advanced based on an overall score that included results of a written test taken on Tuesday.
The champion of the spelling bee receives a $30,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster; and $2,000 worth of reference works from Encyclopedia Britannica.
The 2012 champion was Snigdha Nandipati of San Diego Calif.
Contact Malia Rulon Herman at email@example.com or follow @mrulon