WASHINGTON, D.C. -- "Periphery" spells relief for the Coccari family.At least it did Wednesday afternoon, when Lauren Coccari correctly spelled the word in the first oral round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee."Yeah, that's an easy word that I know," Lauren said moments after the round wrapped up.The large screens flanking the massive stage where competitors await their turn barely had time to show Lauren's name before she spelled her word.
When she knows a word, she knows: while some spellers ask for the definition or origin of a word every time, Lauren just wants to spell. "I do that on some of them, that like I know but I just want to make sure it's the one I'm thinking of," she said.Lauren was among 266 spellers to survive the second round of the national competition, with only 15 misspelling their words. Although Lauren recognized most of the words in the round, she said the word given to the speller directly in front of her was unfamiliar.Wednesday was the first day Lauren admitted to being a little nervous. She was one of the last spellers to take to the microphone, leaving plenty of time to dwell on the competition.Her mom, Stephanie Coccari, admitted to her fair share of nail-biting."I was worried," the mother said, still tense moments after the end of the round."I was hoping she would get a word she knew. I knew she knew all of them, but sometimes when you're nervous, you misspell."Lauren and the remaining spellers will take to the stage again this afternoon, for the third round of the competition. Again, any missed word means a speller is out of the competition.Directly following the end of the third round, spelling bee coordinators will announce the 50 spellers who have advanced to the semifinals. The results of the computerized spelling and vocabulary test the spellers tackled Tuesday weigh heavily in this culling of the competitors.Lauren said Tuesday she thought she did OK on the test. Families are supposed to receive the results of that testing at about 4 p.m. today. ESPN is airing this afternoon's round live online, at espn.go.com.
Lauren's appearance in the national bee is sponsored by the Gazette-Mail, the West Virginia Automobile and Truck Dealers Association and the College Foundation of West Virginia, or cfwv.com. In addition to the all-expense-paid trip to the nation's capital, she won a $2,500 college savings account from the state treasurer's SMART529 program.Reach Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at www.twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.