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I before E: Arizona girls eliminated from National Spelling Bee

Nicola Ferguson (left) and Hanna Norilyn May Batnag Pengroso sit on stage with other contestants Wednesday during the preliminary rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Cronkite News Photo/Veronica Acosta)
LISTEN: Nicola Ferguson - Arizona Spelling Champion

PHOENIX — The 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion will not be from Arizona.

The state’s two entrants, Nicola Ferguson and Hannah Norliyn May Batnag Pengosro, were eliminated by Thursday morning.

Ferguson misspelled psyllium after making the Bee’s finals, while Pengosro misspelled dissidence in the second round.

In case you care (we had trouble even pronouncing the word), psyllium is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the seed of a fleawort (especially Plantago psyllium) that has the property of swelling and becoming gelatinous when moist and is used as a mild laxative.”

Dissidence is defined as dissent or disagreement.

So now you know.

Cronkite News was able to catch up with Ferguson after the third round, prior to her elimination. She said she was feeling confident going into Thursday’s finals.

“When the first couple of people spelled, I got a little more confident because they were words you could kind of figure out,” she said Wednesday afternoon. “And my word, ‘bibliography,’ I had seen a lot of times because I’ve had to do a lot of bibliographies in sixth and seventh grade.”

Ferguson said she studied about “20 to 30 minutes a night” to prepare for the Bee, which saw her finish among the top 45 spellers in the nation.

Pengosro did not return Cronkite News’ request for comment.

Cronkite News’ Veronica Acosta contributed to this report.

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