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Park City 11-year-old hopes to W-I-N Scripps Spelling Bee

Posted at 6:28 AM, May 28, 2024

PARK CITY, Utah — The Scripps Spelling Bee is a perfect competition for logophiles, lovers of words, and FOX 13’s Kerri Cronk recently sat down with one of Utah’s competitors hoping for a victory.

In between being quizzed about some of Utah’s toughest-to-spell town names, 11-year-old Sasha Kenlon, explained some of the more obscure rules.

“In the spelling bee we don’t need to add spaces or punctuation or accents,” Sasha said. “You just have to put the correct letters in order."

Sasha has already memorized countless words in preparation for the national competition, even learning some extras after accidentally studying the wrong lists.

“I learned about three lists worth,” Sasha explained.

“It was a couple of thousand words,” Sasha’s Mother Trish added.

Sasha said she loves the challenge of dissecting each word.

“Words are kind of like a puzzle for me,” she explained. “If this part means this, then what does it mean for that part? So if I can crack the code of the word, then it helps me spell it.”

She’s already cracked the code of enough words to advance to the televised spelling bee.

“Something like 13 rounds of spelling between her and the top two kids,” Trish explained. “So it was pretty intense.”

Sasha said she wouldn’t have reached this point without some help.

“My spelling hero is Mr. Macintosh,” Sasha said “He made learning fun. He taught me a bunch of cool words like onomatopoeia.”

Long words like "onomatopoeia" pose a big challenge for the competitors, because there are no do-overs when spelling those long words in front of the judges. That is with one exception explains Sasha.

“You can ask them, can I please start over but you can't change the letters that you've already said.”

After endless hours of practice, it’s almost go time for Sasha and the other competitors. The Semifinals air this Wednesday starting at 6 pm on ION TV.