Update: The only Knoxville teenager who's representing our region in this week's Scripps National Spelling Bee is not advancing to the semi-finals.
Naama Friedman made it to round three Wednesday afternoon after correctly spelling the words "asphyxiate" and "schnauzer", but she was not one of 46 finalists to move on to the semi-finals.
We'd like to wish Naama congratulations on her accomplishments.
Update: Naama made it through the preliminary and first two rounds of the National Spelling Bee on Wednesday.
She successfully spelled the words schnauzer and asphyxiate to move on.
You can keep up with her progress here.
The competition will continue on Thursday. Naama will find out if she will move on this evening, when a computer-based test will be combined with their first and second round results to narrow the field to 50.
The spelling champ will be crowned Thursday and will take home $30,000 in cash, a trophy and other prizes.
A Knoxville teenager is the only student representing this part of East Tennessee at the Scripps National Spelling Bee this week.
Naama Friedman just finished eighth grade at Bearden Middle, and will attend West High School this fall. The 13-year-old earned her chance to go to the national bee after a few successful rounds at the local level.
"I'm not sure it's quite sunk in yet," Friedman said by phone Monday. "I'm just doing the same thing I've been doing the past couple of months -- studying. And I'll go up there and see what happens!"
Friedman prepared for the spelling bee by studying the Webster's New International Dictionary, 3rd edition. She said she flips between different letters, chooses a word, then studies it and other related words.
"I try to focus on different letters on different days," she said.
Occasionally, she'll be thrown a new word during competition. During the regional spelling bee, Friedman tripped on "infinitesimal."
"I had no clue what that word meant when I went up there," she said. She later learned the word's definition: extremely small, or tiny.
"If you come across a word you don't know there's a minute of panic like -- oh goodness! Then you just have to think about it and see if there are any word parts, if the language of origin can help you at all."
And despite her mastery of the English language, Friedman says her favorite subject is math.
"It feels like it's not at all repetitive and you're always learning new things, and you're always adding to your knowledge," she said. "Also because I probably understand it the best out of any subjects."
Friedman's talents extend beyond the classroom. She ran track and cross country for BMS, performed in several different theater productions, and has played piano for more than eight years. This winter she even started violin lessons.
Now, her latest competition could land the teen on ESPN.
"I'm ready to go up there and see how I do!"
ESPN will broadcast several rounds of the competition. To find out when those will air, visit the Scripps National Spelling Bee website.