Cedarville teen heads to National Spelling Bee for a third time

Cedarville Middle School’s star speller Sophia Lopez has made it into the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the third time, once again earning herself a top spot among spellers around the country and around the world.

Hosted by LeVar Burton, this year’s competition will include 234 spellers, both from the United States and internationally.

At age 14, this is the last year Sophia’s able to participate.

“It’s kind of sad, but I’m excited to move on to new things,” she said. “I hope to still be able to be involved in spelling, maybe judging a spelling bee. It’s bittersweet but it’s nice to move on to new things.”

Managing sports, school, and spelling is no easy task, but Sophia has done it all, finding time here and there during the school day to study.

“It’s crazy because you see all these people on TV and in the news, and it seems impossible to do that, but a lot of hard work has made it a reality for me,” she said. “I’m really proud that I get to represent Springfield and the Dayton area.”

Last year, most of the national bee was conducted over online videoconferencing. The preliminaries and quarterfinals went smoothly, as she spelled from her home, advancing to the top 30. But the semifinals were a technological mess, as first her Bee-issued laptop wouldn’t work, and then her internet went out. Sophia was eliminated in the top 20 spellers out of 209 contestants.

The technical difficulties “took a toll” on Sophia, both during the competition and afterwards.

“In person will be much easier,” she said. “I am really hoping to just connect with more people. I haven’t really gotten to meet other spellers that I know. I just recently started connecting with other spellers, but in the competition, I’m hoping to reach the same level as last year, hopefully higher.”

Each round of competition consists of three sets of oral competition, beginning with a round of spelling, followed by multiple-choice word meaning, and continuing with rounds of spelling competition as directed by officials.

The champion speller receives $50,000, a medal, and the Scripps cup.

The preliminaries will take place this Tuesday, beginning at 9:00 a.m., while the quarterfinals and semifinals will run all day on Wednesday, beginning at 8:00 a.m. The 2022 finals will be televised on ION and Bounce at 8 p.m. Thursday, June 2.

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