WASHINGTON — "Ozostomia" means bad breath, but for spelling wizard Jude Theriot, it had the sweet smell of success Wednesday.
"I had just gone over the list," the eighth grader at Catahoula Elementary School said.
A record field of 185 spellers spent almost six hours under hot television lights and in front of reporters, relatives, escorts and friends as the 60th national spelldown, sponsored by Scripps-Howard Newspapers, got started.
Theriot, who placed 21st in the 1986 bee said he encountered no problems as he breezed through words such as "precious," "flexibility" and "undecipherable."
As for being nervous, Theriot said he felt calmer once the event started and officials used more advanced words.
In the second round, the St. Martinville resident asked for a definition and the root of the word "flexibility" before spelling it correctly.
In his third appearance, he asked for a definition of "undecipherable" before spelling it.
Rest, eating and some study were on the agenda for the Theriots Wednesday night as they prepared for the advanced rounds.
The spellers began the bee shortly after 9a.m., following opening remarks by judges and officials.
Dress for the bee was varied. Some boys wore ties and some girls wore skirts, but t-shirts were also a common sight.
Words for the first round were drawn from a list of easier words provided to spelling bee contestants by the sponsors.
As the rounds continued, the words became more difficult and varied. All but one speller, Lori Mullins of Woodbridge, Va., spelled their opening round words correctly. In a miscue apparently caused by her haste to step away from the microphone, she spelled "germproof" "jermproof."
In the second round, the words became noticeably more difficult, with 11 contestants stumbling over words such as "allayment," "loosestrife" and "totemism."