The trip to the East Coast for Meah Wilburn went according to plan for the Lee’s Summit girl who participated in the latest Scripps National Spelling Bee May 28-30 near Washington, D.C.
A first-time contestant on the national stage, Wilburn was eliminated after third round competition despite not missing a spelled word during two on-stage rounds.
Wilburn didn’t advance because of a complicated scoring formula that saw the recent graduate of Highland Park Elementary School not score high enough on a computerized test, which affected her composite score.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Wilburn said May 30, a day after she closed out competition by spelling correctly the words ‘mihrab’ and ‘Bauhaus.’ “I’m a lot less stressed out now that I’m not in the competition anymore. I was really nervous. Once I started spelling I wasn’t nervous anymore, but it took a long time. It was hard and stressful.”
Unfettered, Wilburn said the experience was one she will use as a learning tool as she prepares for next year’s string of competitions to qualify for the National Spelling Bee.
“I wasn’t really disappointed in not moving on because I didn’t expect to this year,” Wilburn said. “My goal this year was to kind of make it through the two stage rounds and kind of see what the spelling bee is like.”
Added Laurie Wilburn, Meah’s mother: “It was her first year and she didn’t quite know what to expect. Her goal was to get through the two stage rounds and not mess up. It’s definitely an amazing experience. The whole production is well-done and organized and professional. It’s amazing.
“It was fun to be in there for the semifinals (May 30) and be a part of the televised process and see how they orchestrated it. That part is fun; just to be a part of that. Of course, to be around so many amazing kids who can spell crazy words; watching that process is a lot of fun.”
Like most parents, Laurie Wilburn said her and her husband were nervous Nellies during the competition.
“Watching her, you are both proud and excited, and sick to your stomach at the same time,” she said. “It’s the most stressful experience we’ve had with her. It’s different than just watching her in a swim meet or some other competition. This was by far the most stressful.”