Roy Seligman wrapped up his Scripps National Spelling Bee eligibility with a semi-finals berth and was presented with the Bee Ambassador Award for being a good ambassador and embodying all the concepts of a typical speller competing in the competition.
Roy, 13, said his third run at the Scripps crown helped with his work ethic and determination and said if he could return to the competition, he would.
Roy and fellow Bahamian representative Maria Carmen Del Carmen Sanchez, 13, the top Bahamian spelling contestants at the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington, D.C., were both tripped up in word meaning rounds.
Roy exited the competition in the sixth round; Sanchez bowed out early in the second round.
Roy, when asked for the definition of someone described as rumbustical, responded stubbornly sullen; the correct answer is overly exuberant.
The four-time Bahamas National Spelling Bee (BNSB) champ, along with eight other spellers, tied for 23rd.
Maria incorrectly defined that a bulwark is a large male bovine; the correct answer is a significant protection against danger.
Maria was one of 28 spellers to finish the competition tied in 135th place.
Roy, an eighth-grade student at Lyford Cay International School (LCIS), advanced past the first round with the word goanna, and survived his first word meaning round in the second round answering that another word for ulterior is hidden. He correctly spelled the word curvet in round three; eparch in round four; and psittacism in round five to advance, before exiting the competition during the word meaning in the sixth round.
Maria, a seventh-grade student at St. Andrew’s International School (SAIS), had correctly spelled totipotency in the opening round.
Roy went into the competition with vast experience at the Scripps level, having previously competed in 2019 tied for 51st place and 2021 tied for fourth place.
The word meaning round was one of two competition elements, along with a spell-off option, that Scripps brought forward from 2021.
The word meaning round was introduced to challenge spellers in a new way and enhance the competition’s focus on literacy. The word meaning oral vocabulary component appears in the second round of each level of the competition – the preliminaries, quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. The speller was required to orally select the correct multiple-choice answer to a word meaning question read by the pronouncer. The speller had 30 seconds to view the question and the three answer choices, then had to choose the best answer within the time limit to move on to the next round of competition. All other rounds of the competition consisted of traditional oral spelling.
Dr. J. Michael Durnil, executive director of the bee, previously said that they knew from speller feedback that both the word meaning component and the spell-off option were exciting additions to the competition in 2021, so they brought them back to allow the spellers to flex skills such as understanding word meanings and rapid-fire spelling, that they practice all year long.
Eight countries were represented at the 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee. In addition to The Bahamas and the United States, there were also spellers from Canada, Germany, Ghana, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Qualifiers ranged in age from seven to 15, and 45 of them, including Roy, had previously competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Twenty-three of this year’s spellers had relatives who participated in a combined 46 Scripps National Spelling Bees. Four were finalists in 2021, including three who tied for fourth place; Roy was in the four-way tie.
Maria was among 105 female spellers this year and Roy one of 128 male spellers, with one non-binary speller.
Roy was also among four 2021 finalists who won their regional competitions to advance to the 2022 national qualifying rounds.
Going into the competition, Roy was considered a veteran, competing for the third year with six other competitors. There was also one fifth-year veteran competitor and two fourth-year competitors.
Harini Logan, 14, from San Antonio, Texas, went on to win the 2022 title and the $50,000 cash prize. She had previously competed in 2018 (tied for 323rd place), 2019 (tied for 30th place) and 2021 (tied for 31st place).
Roy and Maria, along with other spellers, also had the chance to participate in experiences ranging from activities that inspire fun and relaxation outside of the competition to workshops focused on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and the arts. The week included a group mural painting opportunity, Minecraft coding academy, coding virtual reality camp, creative writing workshop, D.C.-area tours and a book-based team challenge in partnership with the Scripps Howard Foundation.
This year’s competition marked a return to the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside of Washington, D.C. The bee was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was held in a mostly virtual format in 2021. The 2021 final was held in person at ESPN Wide World of Sports near Orlando to facilitate pandemic-related safety protocols. Zaila Avant-garde was the 2021 champion, becoming the first Black American to win the bee.