Brent Henderson failed to spell a “cicatrize” correctly in the fifth round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, ending the competition for him.
Brent Henderson’s goal was to spell at least one word right during the semifinals of the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
And although the eighth grader from Moreland Ridge Middle School in Blue Springs did not move onto the finals, he did get his wish.
“I am so excited,” he said by telephone Thursday afternoon. “My goal was to spell one word right, and I did. I am very happy.”
The semifinals began with 41 spellers out of the original 293. Brent, 14, spelled “Uruguayan” correctly in the fourth round, a word, he said, he was a little nervous about.
“I was just thinking of all the possibilities before I started spelling,” he said. “I was so excited when I spelled it right. Words cannot describe how I was feeling.”
But when the fifth round started, with 36 spellers remaining, Brent discovered the level of difficulty shifted, knocking spellers out quickly. He incorrectly spelled “cicatrize” (to heal with the formation of a scar), ending his National Spelling Bee experience. He spelled the word “siccatrize.”
“I had never heard it before,” he said of the word. “It was tricky because there are other words that sound like it. I got a couple of them mixed up, and it didn’t come out right.”
Nineteen others were also knocked out in the fifth round, leaving 16 to move on to Round 6. Only 11 moved from Round 6 on to the finals.
Last year, Brent did not advance past the preliminaries because the combined scores of the written test and oral rounds were not high enough.
Don Henderson, Brent’s father, said the level of competition was amazing.
“I think we got more nervous than he (Brent) did,” he said. “But there were so many hard words that next round. It was just an incredible experience, and we are so happy he got this far.”
Brent, who will return to Blue Springs Saturday, will spend Friday sight-seeing before attending the farewell party in the evening. He said he has had a “tremendous experience” and is happy he was able to compete one last time. The National Spelling Bee is only for students in eighth grade or below.
“I am a little disappointed that this is my last year because I think I could do really well next year,” he said. “It has been incredible here. I have gotten to meet so many different spellers that it has been a wonderful experience. It is a relief, though, that I do not have to study anymore.”
Don Henderson said the trip to the National Spelling Bee has served as a reward for the whole family.
“This has really been a reward for all of us because, as a family, we have helped him prepare for this. Brent has worked so hard,” he said. “We have enjoyed our time here and are happy that we got to be a part of it. This has been an incredible experience.”
All expenses for the family’s trip were paid by The Examiner, official sponsor of the Jackson County Spelling Bee.