Lori Anne can be all business when it comes to competition. But her time in the spotlight was hardly over.
The next speller was ESPN reporter Samantha Steele (just for a bit of fun), who was asked to spell the word slobberhannes. Steele repeated the word, shook her head and then asked for some help.
"Lori Anne, any help with this?" she said into the microphone.
Lori Anne strode to the stage and heard the word again. "I think it's a joke," she told Steele.
Steele bumbled halfway through the minefield of a word until a bell rang, indicating too much time had passed.
But that was the high-water mark for Lori Anne, who bowed out in the next round after being tricked by an ignoble "i." The homeschooler from Woodbridge, Va., started the word ingluvies with an "e." (What the heck is it? Part of some animals' esophagus.)
When Lori Anne was told that the "e" was incorrect, her eyes grew wide in shock. But as she made her way back to her seat in the back row on the stage, she accepted congratulatory hand-slaps from several other spellers, who understood what an accomplishment it was for the first grader to be competing with them.
Paige Kimble, the director of the bee, thanked the young competitor for her charming addition to the event. "And it was close," she said.
Vanya Shivashankar, a 10-year-old from Olathe, Kan., achieved a perfect score in both onstage rounds and the written test on Tuesday. The semifinal and final rounds Thursday will be broadcast on ESPN.