LITTLE SILVER SPELLER TO REST A SPELL

Fourteen-year-old Little Silver resident Robert Hale, who made it to the fourth round of the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee before tripping up yesterday, is a bit relieved to now have that dictionary off his back, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

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“I’m looking forward to not have a burden on my shoulders,” the Markham Place School eighth-grader told the paper, which sponsored his appearance. “I’m glad it’s over. It’s been stressful these past couple of months.”

From the story:

Robert made it past most of the competitors on the first day of the national bee Wednesday. He reached the fourth round where he stumbled on the word “erinaceous,” which means relating to a hedgehog. He spelled it: “a-r-a-n-a-c-e-o-u-s.” Only 59 of the original 286 spellers made it past the fourth round, which resumes Thursday at 10 a.m.

The Star-Ledger says this means that New Jersey will not have national spelling bee champion two years in a row.

All six New Jersey students who were hoping to follow in the footsteps of 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion Kerry Close of Spring Lake were eliminated Wednesday on the first day of the event. It concludes tonight with the champion crowned in prime time on ABC.

This year’s New Jersey contestants were: Robert Hale, sponsored by the Asbury Park Press and Home News Tribune; Anuradha Bhowmik, sponsored by The Press of Atlantic City; Austin Tamutus, sponsored by the Burlington County Times; Neil Coleman, sponsored by The Record and Herald News; Sandra Talbot, sponsored by The Jersey Journal; and Connie Wen, sponsored by The Times of Trenton.

Close, then 13, beat out 273 other contestants and won a cash and prize package worth more than $42,000 last year when she correctly spelled “ursprache” (it means a parent language) in the final round.

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