The Vindicator spelling champ had never heard of the word and took his best shot.
By MEGAN SCULLY
STATES NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON -- It wasn't Greek, but the Dutch word that tripped up an Austintown Middle School eighth-grader at the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee might as well have been.
Tom Reid, who won The Vindicator Spelling Bee, incorrectly spelled the word mynheer, the polite way to address a Dutch gentleman, after asking contest officials to repeat the word and supply him with a definition.
Tom spelled the word mineherr in the first round.
"It's an evil word," Tom said with a smile Tuesday. "I had no idea how to spell it."
Although he could not remember ever encountering the word, Tom attempted to spell it phonetically. He also decided to spell the last syllable herr in hopes that the Dutch word might have a German suffix.
Having a good time: Still, the 14-year-old and his family, who traveled with him to the nation's capital, were in good spirits after the round and said they plan to watch some of the spellers advance as the national spelldown continued today.
"We might also sneak in some extra tours," said Tom's father, Thomas Reid. The Reids already have been on sightseeing tours and checked out the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.
Tom said that to prepare for the spelling bee, he did "a lot of reading" and studied a list of 3,600 mostly arcane and rarely used words that were fair game for Round One.
"I couldn't pronounce most of the words on the list," said Thomas Reid, who regularly quizzed his son on the word list.
All of the words in Round One were taken from the word list given to the 248 participants. The words used in the rounds today and Thursday, however, will come from Webster's Third New International Dictionary, which contains a weighty 465,000 words.
Well-rounded: A busy teen-ager, Tom is both a scholar and an athlete, participating in his school's gifted program as well as on its cross-country and wrestling teams. He also is no stranger to competitions, having been a participant in Youngstown State University's English Festival and a state-level math competition.
Two months ago, Tom won the right to represent The Vindicator at the national bee when he beat 91 other contestants from Mahoning and Trumbull counties to win the newspaper's 68th annual spelling contest.
ESPN will cover the final rounds of the national bee from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday.